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Memoirs of Henry Hunt, Esq. Volume 2 by Henry Hunt

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Volume 2

"Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
In every work regard the Writer's end,
Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means be just, the conduct true,
Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due."


Hunting, shooting, and fishing by day, and mixing in the thoughtless,
gay, and giddy throng by night, soon, however, dispelled any unpleasant
impression which this circumstance had made upon my mind. I every day
became acquainted with new and more fashionable society than I had
before associated with, and as my son was about to be christened, we
were determined to give a sumptuous feast and a ball, at which upwards
of forty friends sat down to dinner. When I recal to mind all those
expensive and thoughtless proceedings, I can reflect with great
satisfaction upon one circumstance; which is, that I never forgot the
poor. I always attended to their complaints, and ministered to their
wants, when I could scarcely find time for any thing else. I never
gave a feast that the poor did not partake of. Whether it were the
celebration of a birth-day, or at a christening, they always came in for
a share. I forgot to mention, that, when my son was born, I kept up the
good ancient custom, which had been exercised with so much old English
hospitality at my birth, by my father. Not only were toast and ale
given to all my friends and neighbours, but my servants also had such a
junketing as they will never forget. My birth-day, the 6th of November,
I continued to celebrate as my father had done before his death; and I
will here take leave to relate in what way I celebrated that event.
I always had a party of private friends; but, while we were enjoying
ourselves with every delicacy which the season afforded, the dinner
generally consisting of different sorts of game of my own killing,
dressed in various shapes--whilst me and my neighbouring friends and
visitors were regaling ourselves, I was never unmindful of my poorer
neighbours. Enford was a very extensive parish, containing a population
of nearly seven hundred inhabitants. Amongst them there were a
considerable number of old persons, for whom, after my father's death,
I had successfully exerted myself, to procure them an increase of their
miserable pittance of parish pay; which pay I had, as the reader will
remember, raised from half-a-crown to three shillings and sixpence each
per week. All these old people of the parish, of the age of sixty-three
and upwards, I invited annually, without any distinction, to come and
partake of the feast on the sixth of November. The servants' hall was
appropriated to their use on that day; and as there were seldom less
than twenty above this age, we always had as large a party as the house
would well contain. There were about equal numbers of men and women, but
several of the latter were the oldest, some of them being nearly ninety
years of age, and many of them above eighty. As this parish consisted of
eight hamlets, some parts of it, where the old persons resided, were at
a distance of nearly two miles; and as, from their extreme old age,
some of the poor creatures were unable to walk so far and back again, I
always sent a cart and horse round to bring them. They had an excellent
dinner of substantial meat and pudding, besides the dainties that went
from my table, after which they regaled themselves with good old October
or cyder. The day and night were always passed with the greatest
hilarity, and I was never completely satisfied, unless I was an
eye-witness that there was as much mirth and jollity amongst my old
friends in the hall, as there was amongst my other friends in the dining
and drawing rooms. To bring these poor old creatures together, and to
make them once a year happy in each other's company, was to me a source
of inexpressible delight. The very first year I assembled them after my
father's death, several of them had never seen each other for eight or
ten years, in consequence of their inability to leave their homes. They
were overjoyed at meeting each other again, as it was a pleasure which
they had long since banished from their hopes. One or two of them, who
had never been a hundred yards from their own humble sheds for years
before, and who had resigned all thoughts of ever going so far from
their homes again, till they were carried to their last long home in the
church-yard, were now inspired with new hopes, and appeared to enjoy new
life; and they actually met their old workfellows and acquaintances, and
spent a pleasant day with them on the 6th of November, in the hall at
Chisenbury House, for eight or ten years afterwards, where they never
failed to recount all the events of their youthful days. They were
all full of the tales of former times, and of the anecdotes of my
forefathers, of which they had been eye-witnesses. One gave a narrative
of a feast of which he had partaken, another had danced at my
grandfather's wedding, a third had nursed my father, and all of them
were past their prime when I was born. To listen to their garrulity, and
to witness the pleasure they felt in describing and recalling to each
other's recollection, the scenes of years long gone by, and their
opinion respecting the alteration in the times, was to me a source of
indescribable delight. An old man and woman, who were each of them above
eighty years of age, always sung with great glee a particular duet,
which they had sung together, at my grandfather's home-harvest, upwards
of sixty years before. Two women and a man, all above eighty, regularly
danced a reel. Each individual sung a song, or told a story, and, to
finish the evening, a tremendous milk-pail, full of humming _toast and
ale_, wound up the annual feast, which set the old boys' and girls'
heads singing again. Then, each heart being made full glad, care was
taken that no accident or inconvenience should happen to such old and
infirm people, by their being obliged to hobble home in the dark. A
steady carter, Thomas Cannings, and an able assistant, loaded them all
up in a waggon, in which they were drawn to their respective homes, and
deposited there in perfect safety, where they enjoyed a second pleasure
in recounting to their neighbours the merry scenes that passed on the
squire's birthday. It will easily be believed by the reader, that
they looked forward to the Christmas treat, of the same sort, and from
thence to the next birth-day, with as much anxiety as the country lads
and lasses look forward to the annual wake or fair.

The oldest woman in the parish had, all the year round, an invitation to
a Sunday's dinner; and, what is very remarkable, Hannah Rumbold, who
was the first Sunday's pensioner of mine, commenced it at the age of
_seventy-four_, and regularly continued it till she was eighty-three;
scarcely ever missing a dinner, from accident or illness, the whole
time, and never from illness, without the dinner being sent to her own
home. This, by some, may be called ostentation--be it so; it was the way
in which I discovered my pride; and I trust, at all events, that it
was equally laudable with the generous boon of our reverend doctor and
justice, of the "_Old Alderney Cow_." What a history have I heard of
this beneficent, generous, humane, _chaste_, and _pious_ parson, in
consequence of the story of the Old Cow; but, as some of the anecdotes
require confirmation, without which they are almost incredible, I must
pause till the next Number, before I hand them down, together with the
doctor and the old cow, to posterity. I had now made an engagement to go
with some brother sportsmen to Wales, on a grouse shooting party. Our
dogs and guns having been sent on before with our servants, we started,
two of us, in my curricle, and the third person met us at the New
Passage, near Bristol. Unfortunately, we arrived there too late for
the tide; there was only one more boat could pass over the Severn that
night, and that boat was already hired, and waiting to take over the old
Marquis of Lansdown. This was a heavy disappointment to us, as our dogs
were on this side of the water, and would, the next day, have between
twenty and thirty miles to travel, to Pontypool, where we were going
to shoot. The twelfth of August, which was the first day for
grouse-shooting, was on the following day, and therefore our dogs ought
to have gone on some part of the way that very evening, that they might
be fit for the field, or rather the hills, as soon as the shooting
commenced. What was to be done? There was no contending against the
tide. At last I made up my mind to ask the old Marquis to allow the dogs
and a servant to pass over with him. My companions declined joining
in the application, as they were fearful that he would take it as an
insult; and, at all events, there was little chance of his compliance,
as the boat was but a small one, and he had his servants and a
considerable portion of luggage to carry, the whole being nearly enough
to fill the boat. I, however, wrote a note and requested an audience,
which was instantly granted: the noble Marquis, on my entering the room,
politely asking me whether there was any thing he could do to oblige
me? I related to him our unfortunate case, which I represented as most
forlorn; and which, by the bye, none but sportsmen can comprehend. On
his perceiving my anxiety, he laughed heartily, and said, "Make yourself
easy, Mr. Hunt; I will with great pleasure take you and your dogs over
with me in my boat, and I shall be most happy to have your company." I
thanked him warmly, but hinted that I had two companions, which would
be too many for the boat. "Come, come," said he, "we will talk to the
boatman. It certainly will not do to overload; but if he should think
there will be too many, I will, nevertheless, so manage as to set you at
ease upon the subject; for I shall feel great pleasure in having it in
my power to facilitate your sport. As my immediately crossing the river
is of little consequence to me, I will remain on this side till the
morning, and you shall go in the boat, upon condition that, you and your
friends will occupy the beds and eat the supper that I have bespoken at
the Black Rock, on the other side. I expressed my grateful sense of his
polite attention; but, as the boatman had now arrived, and assured him
that he could take us all in his boat with great safety, it was arranged
that we should go together.

The Marquis having finished his tea, we all embarked. He had his
housekeeper and his valet, and we had myself and two friends, with our
servant, and two brace of pointers. The old Marquis of Lansdown, the
father of the present Marquis, was not only one of the most accomplished
gentlemen and profound statesmen of the age, but his liberality and
hospitality were truly characteristic of the old English nobility. He
knew who and what I was, perfectly well, although we were never before
personally acquainted; and he remarked, that my situation in life
rendered me one of the most independent men in the kingdom. He dwelt
upon the talents of Lord Henry Petty, who was his second and favourite
son; and he prognosticated, that he would be an eminent politician, and
that some day he would shine at the head of the English Government. He,
however, emphatically said, that, after all, his son's situation would
never be so independent as mine was, because he would always be bound in
the trammels of party. He invited me to Bow-wood, upon his return, for
which I politely thanked him, informing him, at the same time, that as I
had some friends out of Berkshire staying at my house, I meant, with his
permission, to take them some day to see the house, gardens, and park,
at Bow-wood. To this he replied, that he hoped he should be at home when
we came; that he should feel the greatest pleasure in shewing it to us
himself; but that, go whenever we would, he should be very happy for his
people to shew it me and my friends, although they did not in general
make a practice of doing it. "You will find it," said he, "Mr. Hunt,
a comfortable residence for a country gentleman. It is small, but

I had two or three days good sport, in grouse shooting, though my
friends, who were too delicate sportsmen to encounter, with success,
the difficulties and dangers of the Welsh mountains, returned, without
having killed a single bird. It was, however, altogether, a pleasant
excursion, and as we returned we spent a day or two at the Fish-ponds,
near Bristol, with Dr. Fox, who had recently paid me a visit at
Chisenbury, as a friend of one of the shooting party. As we were on
our way home, the Marquis of Lansdown's polite and gentlemanly conduct
became the subject of conversation; and as one of my friends, who came
out of Berkshire, expressed a wish, as we passed by Bow-wood, the seat
of the Marquis, to see the place, before he went home, we fixed a day,
and made a party, determined to accept the offer of the Noble Marquis,
to visit his seat, and see the beautiful pleasure-grounds, park, and
cascade, which surround the mansion, and likewise view the fine
paintings which it contained. I fell in with this plan the more readily,
because my Berkshire friend rather hoaxed me, for professing to believe
that the Marquis was sincere. He said he was a fine old courtier, and it
cost him nothing to be polite; but, with regard to what he said about
the pleasure he would feel at skewing us Bow-wood, they were mere words
of course, and he would think no more of them afterwards; and if we went
to see it, we should be treated the same as we were when we went to see
Blenheim, the seat of the Duke of Marlborough, which was, we had to pay
about _thirty shillings_ to the different servants that showed us over
the house, gardens, and grounds, at which, considering it was built for
the great Duke of Marlborough, at the _public expense_, I had expressed
my disapprobation. I contended, that we should be treated in a
different manner, and that the old Marquis would not allow his servants
to behave so shabbily. I was, however, laughed at, for expecting that a
Nobleman would take the pains to write home from Wales, to his servants,
to give them any directions about the matter. The day was, nevertheless,
fixed for the 24th of August, 1801.

I shall relate the circumstances of our visit, to shew what sort of a
character the first Marquis of Lansdown was. We appointed to meet at
Devizes, and the party proceeded together to Bow-wood, which is about
six miles from that town. We were six in number, three ladies and three
gentlemen; myself and Mrs. Hunt in our curricle, and our friends two in
a chariot, and two in a gig; each of us attended by a servant. It was a
lovely day, and when we entered the lodge, as we drove down the park,
a distance of about a mile before we came to the house, we drew up and
looked around us. The picturesque views were enchanting, and the sublime
grandeur of the beautiful oaks was most striking. We had been travelling
in Wales, where we had been delighted with the most romantic scenery;
but this park at Bow-wood possessed a richness and a luxuriance such as
we all declared we had never seen before; and the gravel road, the whole
of the mile through the park, was more like the neatest gravel walk in a
garden than a public carriage road. There was not a pebble the size of a
marble, not a leaf, a straw, or a blade of grass, the whole way; every
thing was kept up in the neatest and most perfect style that I ever saw.
We remarked to each other, as we passed along, that the Marquis must
have returned, as no servants would take such pains with a place in a
master's absence.

At length we drove up to the door, and upon inquiring of the porter
whether the Marquis was at home, he answered, "No;" that he was gone
into Wales, and not expected back for a month. We asked if we could see
the house? The answer was, that it was never shown to any one but
the Marquis's friends. My Berkshire friend smiled, and looking very
significantly said, "Well, Hunt, we have had a very pleasant drive, but
I told you how it would be; we may, therefore, as well turn round and
drive back again." I was about to put some other question to the porter,
when the housekeeper approached; an elegant, handsomely dressed matron,
who inquired, "Pray, Sir, is your name Hunt?" I, of course, answered her
in the affirmative; upon which she begged we would alight. She then rang
a bell, and desired the porter and another servant to take the carriages
round the yard, and put the horses in the stable, and take care of them.
She then informed us, that the Marquis had written home, to desire
that, if I came with my friends, we should be shewn the house, gardens,
grounds, cascade, and every thing at Bow-wood.

Having led us into a large room, the walls of which were hung with
paintings, the good lady politely requested that we would amuse
ourselves for a few minutes, while she made some preparations, and she
would return and shew us the whole of the house. As soon as she had
retired, my friend admitted that he had done the Noble Marquis great
injustice, and he was now full of praises for his true nobility of
character. The housekeeper now returned, and, after pointing out some
beauties in the paintings, and the particular views from the windows,
she led us into an adjoining room, in the centre of which stood a table,
covered with wines of various sorts, and the most superb desert of fruit
I ever beheld, consisting of pines, hot-house grapes, and various other
fruits, in the greatest perfection, as well as profusion. We looked at
each other with some surprise, when she invited the ladies to be seated,
and the gentlemen to assist them to refreshments, before we proceeded
any further; and, addressing herself to me, she said, this is a letter I
received on the fourteenth of August. It was written by the Marquis,
on the twelfth, from the Black Rock Inn, on the other side of the New
Passage. It commences as follows:--"I expect Mr. Hunt, of Chisenbury
House, to visit Bow-wood, to see the house and gardens, with his
friends. If they should arrive before my return, you will take care
that they receive that attention which I always wish to be shewn to my
friends, when they do me the honour to visit Bow-wood." "Now," continued
the housekeeper, "I understand the wish of the Marquis well. I know
nothing will afford him greater pleasure than to hear that you, Sir, and
your friends, make yourselves as welcome as he would have made you, had
he been at home." She had, she said, orders to dress us a dinner, which
she should do, while we were walking round the gardens and pleasure
grounds, and viewing the cascade. She had sent a servant, she told us,
to get some fish out of the store, and there was a haunch of venison
just fit to dress; and she would have dinner ready for us at any hour we
would fix. As we had a previous engagement, we declined the invitation
to dinner, but we did ample justice to the pines and grapes. We were
then shewn over the house, and afterwards we went round the gardens,
consisting of five acres of the highest cultivated soil, and the walls
clothed with the choicest fruit trees in full bearing. One fact worth
recording the gardener told me, which was, that the Marquis, being
particularly fond of pears, they were cultivated in this garden to the
highest perfection, and he had a different plate of pears to be put upon
the table for every day in the year. The pleasure grounds and every
thing at Bow-wood bespoke the residence of one who was a nobleman by
nature as well as by title.

After having spent a most agreeable morning, and had a second edition of
the desert and wine, we prepared to depart, all much delighted with what
we had seen, and more gratified with the polite and handsome conduct of
the noble owner. Just as I was about to offer a present, the housekeeper
called me aside. She took the liberty, she said, to request that I would
not offer any of the servants any money. As the servants of the Marquis
had all of them most liberal wages, he never suffered them to take any
vails of his friends who visited him.

In addition to the attention which had been shewn to us, our servants
had also been handsomely regaled, and the horses well taken care of
in the stables; and, as we contemplated the munificent treatment we
experienced at Bow-wood, we could not refrain from drawing a most
unfavourable contrast of the treatment we had experienced about a month
before, when we had made a party to visit Blenheim, the seat of the Duke
of Marlborough, at Woodstock, near Oxford. There we were turned over
from one servant to another, each having his department, and demanding
a certain sum before we were handed into the custody of his companion.
Thus is this splendid testimony of national gratitude to the Great Duke
of Marlborough made a show of for the emolument of the servants of the
establishment; each of them demanding his fee as regularly as a showman
of wild beasts at a fair demands a shilling at the entrance. This is
considered by foreigners as a disgrace to the British character, and it
is justly considered so.

We must now return to politics.--Lord Nelson bombarded the French
flotilla at Boulogne, disabled ten vessels, and sunk five; but upon his
making another attempt on it, he was repulsed with great loss. I cannot
describe this eventful period better than it is described in the
"_Chronology of Public Events, within the last fifty years;_" a most
useful and entertaining work published by Sir Richard Phillips, Bride
Court, Bridge Street. The passage is as follows, under the head of
"_Great Britain_." "This year, 1801, commenced by exhibiting the effects
of eight years war; the national debt had been doubled, and internal
distress had become general; the poor were in a state bordering on
starvation, and commerce had the prospect of having every foreign port
shut against it. The people busied themselves to meet the threatened
French invasion; and after a long watch for encroachment, the English
themselves became assailants, by an attack upon Boulogne, which did
little injury, and a second attack took place, under Lord Nelson, which
failed with loss." This certainly is a correct description of the state
of the country, in the ninth year of the war against French liberty,
waged to prevent a Reform of the Parliament at home.

I shall now state how I was employed upon this occasion. Pitt's
alarmists still disseminated throughout the country, a general terror of
invasion. The various Lords Lieutenants of counties were kept actively
at work, to support the delusion; for nothing but the immediate dread of
invasion could have induced the people to pay the immense drains that
were made upon their pockets by taxation; nothing less than the dread of
having their property annihilated, their wives and daughters violated,
and their children bayoneted before their faces, could have made them
submit to the burthens which they bore.

Our Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Lord Pembroke, had caused circular
letters to be written to the clergymen, churchwardens and overseers of
every parish, to return an account of all the moveable property, live
and dead stock, that there was in their several parishes; and also to
require every farmer to give in a list of his stock of grain, horses,
waggons and cattle; and at the end of it to state what he would
voluntarily place at the disposal of the government, in case of an
actual invasion; he was also to declare whether he was employed in any
volunteer corps, and if not, whether he would place himself under the
Lord Lieutenant and act as pioneer, driver, &c. In the parish of Enford,
a public meeting was called, which was held at the Inn. Being much the
largest farmer in the parish, I was called to the chair. Having opened
the business of the day by reading the circular of the Lord Lieutenant,
and explained as well as I could the object of the meeting, I urged
those who were present, which was every farmer of the parish, by all
the power of eloquence that I possessed, to come forward manfully and
devotedly, to resist the common enemy with their property and their
lives, in case they should dare to set a foot upon English ground. As it
was then my practice, and which it has ever continued to be to this day,
I told them that I should feel myself a disgrace to human nature, if I
could be capable of urging or exciting my fellow countrymen to any
act, in the danger of which I would not stand forward personally to
participate. I would, therefore, in the first instance, write down
fairly and honestly a true account of all the stock, live and dead, that
I possessed, and conceal nothing whatever. It was as follows: Wheat,
sixteen hundred sacks--barley, fifteen hundred quarters--oats, four
hundred quarters--hay, two hundred and fifty ton--cart horses, thirty,
value from thirty to seventy guineas each--draught oxen, ten--cows,
twenty--sheep, four thousand two hundred--pigs, fifty--two broad-wheel
and eight narrow-wheel waggons, eight carts, &c. &c. &c. all in
excellent condition, and fit for active service. Each farmer in
succession followed my example, in giving a full and faithful account of
the whole of his stock; I having urged the necessity, nay, the policy,
of this; because, in case the enemy were to land, and the cattle
and stock were to be driven off, no one could afterwards claim
compensation for more than he had actually entered. This being done, the
next thing required was, for each person to enter in a column set apart
for that purpose, how many quarters of grain, how many waggons and
horses, how many oxen, sheep, &c. he would furnish gratuitously to the
government in the event of an actual invasion; and, if he were not
serving in any volunteer corps, whether he would become a pioneer or
driver, or place himself at the disposal of the Lord Lieutenant. I took
the pen and wrote as follows:--"I, Henry Hunt, of Chisenbury House, in
the county of Wilts, have given a true and faithful account of all the
live and dead stock, cattle and grain, that I possessed; and I do
hereby voluntarily tender the whole of it, without any reserve, to the
government, to be at their disposal in case of an actual invasion and
landing by the enemy. I also engage to find, at my own expence, able,
careful, active and willing drivers for the teams, and shepherds to
attend the cattle and flocks, to conduct them wherever they may be
required. As for my own personal services, I having lately been
dismissed from the Wiltshire yeomanry by Lord Bruce, the colonel, and
having no confidence either in the courage or skill of the colonel
or any of the officers belonging to that regiment, but having, by
considerable pains and perseverance, obtained a pretty correct knowledge
of military tactics, I hereby engage to enter myself and three servants,
completely equipped, and mounted upon valuable hunters, as volunteers
into the regiment of horse that shall make the first charge upon the
enemy; unless the Lord Lieutenant should think that an active and
zealous friend to his country, well mounted, and ready to perform any
service, however desperate, accompanied by three servants, also well
mounted, can serve the cause of his country better by placing himself at
the disposal of the Lord Lieutenant of the county."

My neighbours stared, and I believe some of them thought me mad with
enthusiasm. And as well as I can recollect, so far were they from
following my example, that they all contented themselves with offering
some a waggon and four horses, some a cart and two horses, some a few
quarters of corn; but no one went further than offering a waggon and
four horses and a few quarters of oats. In fact, when the returns came
to be examined, the offer that I had made exceeded that of all the
farmers of the whole district, for many miles round. As soon as the
meeting was concluded, not satisfied with writing my name down in
the circular, and leaving it to find its way amongst others to head
quarters, I sat down and wrote a letter, which I sent by my servant,
to Lord Pembroke, explicitly stating the extent of the offer, and my
readiness to carry it into execution. I received the following answer,
which I have now before me.

"WILTON HOUSE, August 20th, 1801.


"I have been so overwhelmed for some days with business, resulting from
the necessity of calling upon a part of this county to put itself in a
state of military preparation, that it has not been in my power to send
a more immediate answer to your letter of the sixteenth. As the part
above alluded to does not extend to your residence, I conceive you will
not be called upon to make any movement, except in the event of actual
invasion, or of immediate threatening upon the coast; in which case the
_offers_ you make would be of _infinite service_; in which case also, as
you ask my opinion, I think various lines of service might be pointed
out, in which your _personal services_, attended by your servants, would
be of much greater avail, and far more beneficial to the country, than
as a volunteer in any regular regiment of cavalry, should those corps be
permitted to receive volunteers.

"I am, Sir,
"Your very obedient servant,
"To Henry Hunt, Esq.
"Chisenbury House, Wilts."

Now let the thinking reader look at this circumstance attentively, and
having done so, and marked down the dates, what a field for reflection
does this fact, this letter disclose!--It appears, by the date of this
letter and its contents, that, on the SIXTEENTH OF AUGUST, _in the year
1801, I was acting as CHAIRMAN of a public parish meeting_, held at the
Swan Inn, in the parish of Enford, in the county of Wilts, assembled in
consequence of a circular letter, written by Earl Pembroke, the Lord
Lieutenant of the county, in order to take into consideration and
to adopt the most effectual means of affording assistance to the
government, to resist and repel the invasion of a _foreign foe_.
The very FIRST time in my life that I was ever called upon by my
fellow-countrymen to _preside_ at a public meeting, was on the SIXTEENTH
OF AUGUST, 1801; and, for my zeal and devotion for the welfare and
safety of my country on that day, I received the approbation of Lord
Pembroke, the Lord Lieutenant of the county of Wilts. On the SIXTEENTH
OF AUGUST, 1819, that day eighteen years afterwards, my readers all
well know, and they will never forget it, that I was presiding at as
peaceable, as laudable, and as constitutional a public meeting, held at
Manchester, for the purpose of taking into consideration the best and
_most legal_ means of obtaining "a reform in the peoples' or Com- mons'
House of Parliament." But, instead of then receiving the thanks of the
Lord Lieutenant of the county, I was assaulted by a military force,
imprisoned, sentenced to be incarcerated in the worst, the most
unwholesome, and the most infamous county gaol in the kingdom, for
TWO YEARS and SIX MONTHS; while the butchers who murdered fifteen or
sixteen, and maimed upwards of six hundred of their peaceable and
unresisting fellow creatures, received the thanks of the King for their

This is a very extraordinary coincidence of circumstances, that the
_first_ and the _last_ public meeting at which I ever presided, should
have been on the SIXTEENTH OF AUGUST; and that they should have been
attended by such different results is equally worthy of notice. I am
quite sure, that I was actuated by the very same feeling, the same love
of country, the same anxiety for the well being of my fellow countrymen,
and the same self-devotion, at both these meetings; my great leading
object being to promote, as far as my humble means would permit, the
welfare, the freedom and the happiness of my fellow countrymen.

It will not, I think, be uninteresting to my friends, who honour me
by reading these memoirs, to state how I came by this letter of Lord
Pembroke's, written nearly twenty years ago. It would seem as if I had
been a very wary person to preserve my papers so carefully. But this
is not the fact; I have been quite the reverse; thousands of papers,
letters from public men, which would have been most valuable to me now,
and documents, have I incautiously and thoughtlessly burnt. I will,
however, state how I came by _this_ letter, which I have now here in
this gaol. Soon after I came to Ilchester, I wrote home to my family, to
collect from amongst my papers, all letters and papers containing votes
of thanks that had been passed at public meetings all over the country,
and sent to me from various places, from almost every part of the
kingdom; particularly in the years 1816, 1817, 1818, 1819 and 1820. When
these papers came to me here, in looking them over I discovered three
from Lord Pembroke; and I was rather surprised at their being amongst
the number sent, as I had quite forgotten what subjects they were upon.
But, on opening them, I found that they all contained expressions of
approbation and thanks, for various offers that I had made during the
first French war, while an invasion was threatened. As soon as I had
examined them, I put them by, and never thought of them again, till I
came to write the account of my first offer. I was then going to state
the substance of the Lord Lieutenant's answer, as far as my memory would
serve me, but at that moment recollecting that I had some letters from
Lord Pembroke, I looked for them, and the very first upon which I laid
my hand was that which I have inserted above. Now, let the life and
fortune men produce, if they can, one such instance amongst them, of
patriotic and disinterested self-devotion as that which I evinced at
that time. It will be seen that I was just the same sort of man on the
16th of August, 1801, as I was on the 16th of August, 1819; just the
same sort of man that I am at this moment. In the first instance my
country was in danger; she was threatened by the invasion of a foreign
foe--that was enough; what was my conduct? I hurried to her assistance,
and I made a voluntary tender of _all_ I possessed--_corn, hay, horses,
cows, oxen, sheep, pigs, waggons, carts, &c._ to the value of at least
_twenty thousand pounds_, together with my own personal services, to
perform any duty, however hazardous. I had suffered once for my zeal.
I had been insulted by the colonel of the Wilts yeomanry, and for
resisting it, I had been fined and imprisoned; but this did not
extinguish, nor did it even slacken my zeal for what I conceived to be
the safety and the liberty of any country. The liberal and patriotic
offer which I had made was talked of all over the county by the rich and
by the poor.

At this period I was living in what was called great style; my mansion
being generally full of company. But in the midst of this profligate
course of life, for so it might, with great truth, be called, I was
not unmindful of the wants and the privations of the poor, and I never
failed to do every thing in my power to relieve their distresses, and at
the same time protect them from oppression. Hunting and shooting were my
great delight; but, fond as I was of these sports, I never neglected the
call of a poor man or a poor woman, to attend on his or her behalf, at
a justice meeting, to advocate their cause, and defend them against the
arbitrary and cruel attacks of any little dirty tyrant, who might have
premeditated to oppress them. For this conduct I was branded, behind my
back, by the _quorum_, and all the _jacks_ in office under them, as a
_busy, meddling, officious fellow;_ but this never deterred me from
doing that which I believe to be, and which I had been taught to be, the
duty of a good Christian, namely, my duty towards my neighbour. If the
petty despots of the neighbourhood levelled their sneers at me behind
my back, I was more than repaid, I was most amply rewarded, for this
indignity, by a self-approving conscience, and by the grateful thanks
and blessings of the poor, whenever I came in contact with them. They
were not only civil and respectful towards me and my family, but they
were always ready to fly to do me any act of kindness within their
power. Whenever any particular exertion was required in my farming
business, it was only for me to hint my wish, and it was not only set
about without expostulation or grumbling, but it was sure to be executed
and accomplished with alacrity and cheerfulness; for they never had any
doubt of my punctuality in repaying them with an equitable and a
liberal hand. This was a delightful state of society; each we would act
otherwise than we did, is the weakness of folly; for if we were placed
in the very same situation, at the same age, with the same inexperience,
and impelled by the same impetuous youthful passions; under similar
circumstances, depend upon it we should commit the self-same errors that
we have now to regret. As for myself, instead of indulging in this
sort of weakness, I look back upon my past errors with a sort of awful
reverence for the benignity of the divine will of my Maker; and, when I
prostrate myself before God, and offer up a silent, although an ardent
thanksgiving for all his goodness to me, an insignificant human being, I
never forget to pour out my most grateful and unbounded acknowledgments
to him for his having permitted me to pass through life hitherto _so
well as I have done_, without having committed any premeditated or
deadly sin, such as would bear down and oppress my soul with conscious
guilt, and place me in that deplorable situation which is so beautifully
expressed by a sublime author: "of all mortals, those are the most
exquisitely miserable, who groan beneath the pressure of a melancholy
mind, or labour under the stings of a guilty conscience; a slave
confined to the gallies, or an exile to punish--living and labouring
for the mutual benefit and happiness of the whole.

Many of my readers will be surprised, and will exclaim, "how was it
possible that Mr. Hunt, surrounded with so many blessings, and appearing
so much to enjoy such a rational, desirable, delightful occupation,
should have been led away, should have been betrayed into the guilt of
dissipation?" Ah, my friends! how easy is it, in looking back upon past
events, upon lost time, how easy is it for us to say, and what a common
expression it is, in the mouth of almost every reflecting person, "_If
my time were to come over again, how very differently would I act!_" But
this sort of reasoning is very fallacious, it is unworthy a philosopher.
When a person reflects upon particular events of his life, where his
objects had failed for want of foresight, or for want of prudence, it
may be excusable in him to express a wish, nay, it is almost impossible
for any one to suppress an inward wish, that he had acted with more
caution, discretion or prudence; but even a hankering wish of this sort
is a weakness, although it may be an amiable and an excusable weakness.
To wish at all for an impossibility, such as the recalling of time that
is irretrievably gone by, must be a weakness. But, even if we could
recall it, to assert that [--illegible--] is in perfect paradise
compared with these."

The reader will be careful to recollect, that I am not endeavoring to
screen those sins that I know I have committed. As I feel that they will
come under the denomination of _venial_, and not deadly sins, I shall
not shrink from the task which I have imposed upon myself, of recording
them as often as they occur at the different periods of my history. I am
not insensible of my errors, faults, or frailties; I know that we are
all poor frail mortals; but, as my poor father said upon his death bed,
"I have not the least shadow of doubt upon my mind, that a wise, just,
and beneficent Creator and Father of all, will pardon my errors." With
the same sort of hope, and with a similar impression upon my mind,
I pass my numerous hours of solitude here in the most delightful
reflections. Calm, composed and perfectly free from the slightest
impatience under the idea of my lengthened imprisonment, I have nothing
about me of pining or fretting; and when I nightly lay my head down on
my pillow, I invariably enjoy sweet, sound, and uninterrupted repose. I
rise early, refreshed, vigorous and cheerful, always occupied, always
looking forward with new and renovated hopes, of living to see the
enemies of my country and the persecutors of my suffering countrymen
brought to justice. Though I am a determined and unpromising enemy of
those who tyrannize over and oppress my fellow creatures, yet I feel
that I am always ready to forgive my personal injuries, and I am never
in better humor with myself, and never have a higher opinion of my own
character, than when I find my heart divested of all vindictive feelings
against the petty tyrants by whom I am surrounded. For their cruel
persecution of myself and my unoffending family, I will, if I live and
have the power, deliberately and perseveringly bring them to justice;
but I will not do it to gratify a vindictive spirit--I will do it for
the sake of justice itself; not to gratify my own revenge, but for the
protection of those who may come hereafter.

To return to my narrative: the letter which, in answer to my unlimited
offers, I received from Lord Pembroke, I communicated to the
neighbouring farmers, at a meeting held for that purpose. This quieted
their fears, and the account of Lord Nelson's attack upon the flotilla
contributed, in a great measure, to dissipate the general apprehension
which pervaded the whole country, that an immediate invasion was
actually likely to take place. The French Government understood this
thing well; they knew that it kept the country in a continual state of
ferment and apprehension; and therefore they persisted in keeping the
army of observation and the flotilla at Boulogne, in order to harrass
the British Ministry, who, however, contrived to turn this to their own
advantage, as it enabled them to frighten the people out of their
money, by an enormous levy of taxes; the supplies voted this year being
forty-two millions, and the loan which took place being twenty-five
millions. By this means the taxes this year were increased one million
seven hundred and ninety-four thousand pounds. I believe that nothing
but the dread of invasion would have induced the people of England to
submit to such enormous drains upon their pockets. This bugbear, then,
was cherished with the greatest care by the Ministers; a striking
example of which is, the state of ferment we were placed in at Enford,
the centre of the county of Wilts, at least fifty miles distant from any
part of the coast, and a great deal further from any part of it where a
landing was likely to be attempted. We all, however, in consequence of
Lord Pembroke's letter, now went very steadily about our business again.

The patriotic and truly illustrious Washington's Presidency expired
in America this year, and he retired into private life, amidst the
grateful benedictions of his country, which, under his wise, virtuous,
and cheap administration, had, in spite of numerous difficulties, risen
to such a magnitude, that its friendship was courted by all the old
Governments. It appeared that the public debt was 78 millions of
dollars, not more than 16 millions sterling, which sum was yearly
diminishing, and that the annual expenditure of the chief officer of the
state was only nine thousand five hundred pounds, not above half the
amount of the sinecure of the Marquis of Buckingham or Marquis of
Camden, as Tellers of the Exchequer. What a contrast was exhibited
between the expences of Great Britain and those of America!

In England the average price of wheat, throughout the year, was a
hundred and twenty shillings a quarter, or fifteen shillings a bushel.
It was estimated, that nine millions of acres of corn were grown in
England this year, and the price which the produce sold for may be
fairly averaged at twelve pounds per acre; therefore, in the one
year, one hundred and eight millions of pounds were pocketed by the
land-holders and farmers in the price of their corn only. I had grown
most excellent crops, and of course had come in for my share. In fact,
my corn averaged above four pounds per sack for the wheat, and four
pounds per quarter for the barley; so that merely the corn with which I
offered, in case of an invasion, to supply the Government, gratuitously,
was not worth less than fifteen thousand pounds. I repeat it once more,
let the exclusively loyal gentry--let the life and fortune men--let the
hole-and-corner addressers come forward, and point me out one instance
amongst their whole hordes, of a man who ever volunteered to serve
his country to such an extent. What I this day told Dr. Colston, the
Visiting Magistrate, is quite applicable on this subject. When he was
professing every disposition to serve me, I replied, looking him firmly
in the face, "Doctor, doctor! shew me an _act_ and I will believe you.
_One act is worth ten thousand professions._ I ask for nothing but what
is reasonable, and consistent with common sense and common humanity;
and nothing but what is consistent with your strict duty as a man, a
clergyman, and a christian. _Let me see my family at reasonable hours
in the day time, so long as they conduct themselves with decorum
and propriety, and violate none of the rules of the gaol, and I am

The reader will see, that this is the burthen of my song, "Let me see
my family." This one simple, this one reasonable request, is all I have
asked, is all I do ask, and it is all I shall ask. But, while you deny
me this, talk not to me of conciliation. All your little, petty, dirty,
mean tricks to annoy me I can and do laugh at; I should despise myself,
if I could not despise and disregard them. But, like expert butchers,
who, when they are about to cut the throat of their innocent victim, the
bleating lamb, know well where to apply the knife, so do you know where
to inflict a deadly wound in the most vital part. There is, to be sure,
this distinction between you and the butcher; it is his business, it
is his profession, by which he gets his daily bread; and, indeed, the
sooner he kills his victim the more merciful he is: but as for you, your
conduct is ten thousand times more brutal than that of the butcher,
inasmuch as you inflict torture upon a human being, merely for the
pleasure of inflicting torture. And do you really believe, are you so
besotted as to flatter yourselves, that you will escape? Do you really
believe, that "Where vice and cruelty go before, vengeance will not
follow after?" Vain and delusive hope!!! Justice is slow, very slow, in
reaching the minions of power; but she is certain to prevail at last.
This digression I am sure will be excused, and I will now proceed.
This period (1801 and 1802) may be said to have been the zenith of the
farmers' glory. If a farm was to be let, scores were riding and driving
over each other, ready to break their necks to take it, to rent it
at any price. Not only farmers, but tailors, tinkers, grocers,
linen-drapers, and all sorts of tradesmen and shopkeepers, were running,
_helter shelter_, to be farmers; men connected with the press, and
cunning attorneys were joining in the chase; men of all professions,
indeed, were now eager to become gentlemen farmers. My father used
to class the whole of these under the general denomination of APRON
FARMERS. Never was there a more significant and intelligible term
applied to any set of men. In every parish you now saw one or two of
these _apron farmers_, gentlemen who knew very well how to handle a
yard, so as to make short measure in selling a piece of cloth; men who
could acquit themselves well at a pestle and mortar, who could tie up a
paper parcel, or "split a fig;" who could drive a goose-quill, or ogle
the ladies from behind a counter, very decently; but who knew no more
about the management of a farm than they did about algebra, or the most
intricate problems of Euclid. A pretty mess these gentry made of it!
every one who had saved four or five thousand pounds by his trade must
now become a farmer! They all knew what profits the farmer was making,
and they not only envied him, but they made a desperate plunge to become
participators with him in the booty. There was scarcely an attorney
in the whole country that did not carry on the double trade of
quill-driving and clod-hopping. Most of them purchased land, even if
they borrowed the money to pay for it; and many, many of them, after
having farmed and farmed, till they had not a shilling in their pockets
to support their families, have been compelled to give up their estates
to the mortgagee. As an illustration of this fact, I could point out
numerous instances of this sort of mad folly. I remember an Irish
Barrister, who had married a lady of fortune at Bath, came and purchased
an estate in Sussex, adjoining one that I occupied; and this, as
he expressed himself, he did, that he might have the benefit of my
experience to assist him in the cultivation of it. He was to take the
timber at a valuation, and it is a sufficient proof of his ignorance
of these matters, that he really did not know the difference between a
hazel bush and an oak tree; for, although he was a very clever and an
ingenious man in his way, yet he actually applied to me, to know how
they would measure such _small timber_ as that which he pointed out to
me, which was nothing more than a _hazel bush!_ Such was his ignorance
of country affairs, that he did not know barley and wheat from grass,
nor beans from oats, when growing; and he seriously proposed, as the
best method of hatching young ducks, to set them under the rooks who had
made their nests in the lofty trees that surrounded his house; and yet
this gentleman must be a farmer, forsooth! But I am anticipating my
history. These facts must, however, convince every rational mind, that
this was such an unnatural state of things as could not exist for any
lengthened period. It did, nevertheless, drag on to the end of the war,
when all these _apron farmers_ were brushed off their farms, as one
would brush from off one's leg a fly that was stinging it. These
gentry long since quitted the turmoil and difficulty of _agricultural
pursuits_. Those that purchased have given up their land to the
mortgagee; and those that rented have had their stocks sold to pay
their creditors; and many of them, cursing the evil hour when they
were induced to become farmers, have crept quietly back to occupy the
situation behind the counter, as servants, where only a few years before
they had reigned as masters. These were some of the evils naturally
attendant upon the bad policy as well as wickedness of one nation going
to war to put down and destroy the liberty of another!

I used regularly to attend Devizes market, seldom, if ever, missing a
market-day. After my father's death I was elected, or rather promoted to
his seat, which was that of chairman at the head of the table, at the
principal dining room of the farmers, at the Bear Inn, the best Inn of
the town. I have already described some of the scenes that used to occur
upon those occasions, as to the way in which the bottle was passed about
after dinner; but there is one other important point, connected with
these weekly meetings of farmers, which I deem most worthy of recording.
Those parties were composed chiefly of farmers; but there were
intermingled several large millers, brewers, maltsters, and corn
jobbers from Bath and the surrounding country; and every now and then a
gentleman _bag-man_, or traveller, would join us, which he was sure to
do if there was any one in the town. After dinner the home news of the
day having been talked over, foreign news and politics were generally
introduced; for, since I had been in the King's Bench, my opinion was
considered as some authority, and very earnest and warm debates used
frequently to take place. For some years before this period all
political discussion had been put down with a high hand, by the impudent
and boisterous conduct and assertions of one or two of these Bath corn
jobbers, who denounced any one as a Jacobin who ever dared to utter a
word contrary to the plans of the despots of Europe, or hostile to
the measures of Pitt. As far back as 1794 and 1795, if any one boldly
delivered his sentiments, and reprobated the war as the measures of the
ministers, he was not only denounced as a Jacobin, but he was generally
turned out of the company, and his arguments, instead of being answered,
were silenced by _brute force_. However, my father possessed too much
manhood and liberality to suffer such a course as that to be taken while
he presided.

At our meetings there was an impudent, unblushing, self-conceited fellow
of the name of Perry, a miller and corn-dealer of Bath, who was always
sure to contradict and insult any one who dared advance a liberal
opinion; in which outrageous conduct he never failed to receive the
support of those gentlemen _bag-men_, when any of them happened to be
present; so that every young man, whatever were his pretensions to
talent, was compelled to keep silence, unless he concurred with the
ignorant and slavish doctrines of this hectoring jobber in grain, and
the still more consequential knights of the bag. Having been informed,
by a gentleman of Bath, one day, when I was speaking of this Perry's
insolent conduct, that he was one of Mr. Pitt's agents, paid to
promulgate his doctrines, and to put down the arguments of his
opponents, I took occasion, when I was in the King's Bench, to make
inquiries upon this subject, and any friend Clifford ascertained, from
the most unquestionable sources, that it was one of Mr. Pitt's plans, to
employ and pay, out of the secret service money, almost all the
travellers in the kingdom, at least all those who possessed either a
sufficient stock of impudence or a talent of speaking or arguing in
company, for the express purpose of putting down public opinion, and
enforcing and propagating the measures of the ministers, as the most
wise and politic; and that these worthies were paid in proportion to
their boisterous powers, and their impudence; and the reader will easily
conceive that they soon acquired a sufficient stock of the latter, when
they knew under what powerful auspices they were acting. He also
ascertained that, in addition to these itinerant propagators and
champions of tyrannical and despotic measures, they had from one to
three stationary auxiliaries in every principal town in the kingdom, who
frequented all places of public resort, and were always ready to
denounce any man as a Jacobin and an enemy to his country, who dared to
give utterance to an honest, candid thought. These fellows were so
backed on by the local authorities, that the general feeling being also
pretty much in their favour, their insolence was in many cases almost
insufferable. Few men chose to enter the lists with them, because they
had no chance of fair play, nor any probability of arguing the question
with any degree of candour or liberality; and as a man must have either
put up with flat ignorant contradiction, and open premeditated insult,
or have got into a quarrel with them, conversation on political subjects
was for many years effectually banished from almost every public
company. However, since I had returned from my travels (which is the
slang term of going to prison), I had acquired a considerable degree of
confidence, and, accordingly, the very first time that I found this Mr.
Perry pouncing upon one of the company with one of his rude knock-down
arguments, I, without ceremony, took up the cudgels, and announced that,
as long as I continued to be the chairman of that company, it was my
intention to maintain the freedom of conversation, and I called upon the
company to support me in my determination. If they would do this, every
man would, I said, be at liberty to deliver his sentiments upon public
matters with perfect freedom, as long as he abstained from offering any
personal rudeness or insult to any one present, which should not be
tolerated from any quarter whatever. With one or two exceptions, my
proposal met with general approbation. This said, Mr. Perry made a long
speech, calling upon the company to sustain their character for loyalty,
and to declare themselves church and king men; and he urged them not to
tolerate any thing like republican or free principles. He was heard very
coolly, and even met with some disapprobation, upon which, getting warm,
he declared that no man should utter any jacobinical expressions while
he was present. This very naturally caused a laugh, and Mr. Upstart sat
down, vowing vengeance against all Jacobins. I replied, and informed him
that his notions about jacobinism were thoroughly ridiculous, and that
if he ever heard any sentiments delivered of which he disapproved, and,
in answer to which he could not find arguments, stated in decent
language, the only way for him to act was, to walk out of the room; for
he might depend upon it, if he ever insulted any one of the company in
future, by giving them the lie, or calling them Jacobins and enemies to
their country, if the party would support their chairman, I would put
him out of the room. This was indeed turning the tables upon the loyal
gentlemen, and it shews the alteration of opinions of that same company,
who, a very few years before, had joined in forcing a very worthy man to
quit the same room, merely because he disapproved of the war with
France. This room ever afterwards was notorious for the liberality of
sentiment that pervaded the company; and, as long as I remained the
chairman thereof, the freedom of rational discussion was preserved

The reader will perceive that I have of late very seldom mentioned the
name of Mrs. Hunt. The fact is, that I did not at this period enjoy that
domestic felicity, of which I had heretofore partaken. I was, as I have
more than once stated, gay, thoughtless, and dissipated. I seldom ever
spent a retired, quiet evening at home, enjoying the rational amusements
of my own domestic fireside. We bad always company at home, or I was one
of a party abroad; myself and Mrs. Hunt were living a true fashionable
life, and we entered into all its levities and follies. This course of
life had drawn us into more fashionable, more accomplished society; and
I own that to me polished manners were a great attraction, and that
those who possessed them, possessed superior powers to fascinate.
Amongst this number I frequently met a lady, who had been bred up and
educated in the highest and most fashionable circles; she was tall,
fair, and graceful, and, as far as my judgment went, every charm and
accomplishment, both corporeal and mental, that could adorn an elegant
and beautiful female, appeared to be centered in her. At first sight I
was struck with her superior air and graceful form, but I soon began
to admire the beauties of her mind more than I had at first sight been
captivated by her person. We were, as if by accident, frequently thrown
into each other's society--a circumstance with which I was very much
delighted; and, as it never occurred to me that there could, by any
possibility, be any harm in admiring and paying respectful attention to
a lovely, elegant, and accomplished female, I never concealed in the
smallest degree the pleasure which I felt in her society. Though for
upwards of twelve months, which was ever since we had become first
acquainted, my attentions had been very marked, yet they had not
attracted any particular notice. I thought, alas! and I professed what I
thought, that I felt the most pure platonic affection for this lady, and
that I was blessed with her friendship in return. My wife had watched
the progress of this attachment with anxiety and pain; she mentioned her
fears, and expostulated in becoming terms against the imprudence of my
conduct, which might give occasion to the world for ill-natured remarks;
and she represented to me that, although my attentions were open and
undisguised, they were very pointed and visible to every one, and that
people would and did talk about it. I professed to set at defiance the
malignant opinions of the envious and the ill-natured, and, as I was
conscious of the purity and honour of my intentions, I was the last man
living that would be likely to forego any pleasure, merely because the
censorious world chose to make their remarks upon it. I saw that my wife
had not the slightest suspicion of any thing criminal, neither was
there the least reason for any such suspicion; but I saw also, that she
dreaded the consequence of such incessant--such devoted attention on my
part, which, although it was received with politeness, and the strictest
propriety, she nevertheless perceived to be not at all disagreeable.
Though this attachment was as pure and disinterested as platonic
affection could possibly be, and although I should quite as soon have
indulged an improper thought towards my own sister, yet the society of
this lady was now become absolutely necessary to my comfort; we were,
therefore, frequently together, and I was miserable if three or four
days passed without our meeting--a circumstance which seldom happened,
notwithstanding we lived at a distance of ten miles from each other.

It will be asked, what said the husband of the lady? for she was a
married woman. It would ill-become me to say more than is absolutely
necessary upon that subject; but, unfortunately he was careless and
inattentive, and knew not how to prize the treasure that he possessed;
and besides, as he never entertained, nor ever had any reason to
entertain, a shadow of doubt respecting his wife, we were constantly
left together. This intimacy had now continued nearly two years, and as
the lady was going to stay with her family in a distant county, I was
invited (almost of course) to pay her a visit while she was there. I
scarcely need say, that the invitation was accepted. Instead of staying
a week or ten days, I remained a month. During the whole of the time, my
attention was incessant; I could not join in any scheme of pleasure or
amusement, unless she was one of the party. Unluckily, too, there was no
one to controul us. Her word was a law, which I resolutely carried into
effect. At length the gentleman getting quite tired of my visit, which
was never intended or professed by me to be to him, but to the lady, he
left us, and went to London. Whenever he was asked by his friends or
acquaintance, if I would not make one of a party to walk, to ride, to
drive, or any other amusement, he invariably answered, "you must ask my
wife, by G--; Hunt is no visitor of mine he is Mrs. ------'s visitor;"
and I, without any ceremony, admitted this, by saying it was perfectly
true, if the lady chose to go I should accompany her, and if she chose
to remain at home, I should remain with her; and this determination I
invariably followed.

Business, however, called me home, a few days after the gentleman left
us, and I went into Wiltshire, about the middle of May, having made
a promise to return in July, to attend the races at Brighton. This was
the longest and most tedious six weeks of my life. I thought of nothing
but my intended visit to Brighton races; and such was the anxiety of my
mind, that it brought on a serious, and, indeed, alarming fever. In
the fits of delirium I raved for the lady who was the object of my
solicitude, and at one period the paroxysms were so violent, that Mrs.
Hunt actually thought that I should have been bereaved of my senses; and
to calm me, she seriously proposed to send an express for the lady. In
a few days the strength of my constitution overcame the disease, and
I recovered. But I found my life was quite a blank; my very soul was
absorbed in thinking and longing for the society of one dear object. I
took not the least interest in the political occurrences of the day;
and, for the first time in my life, I grew careless, and totally
neglected my business. Peace had been proclaimed: such an event, at any
other time, I should have considered a matter of the highest importance,
but that event scarcely excited my attention. Buonaparte was made
first consul for life, and the Legion of Honour was established; this
occasioned a great sensation throughout the country, but the discussion
of these matters created no lively emotions in _my_ breast; my mind was
totally absorbed in contemplating another object. I now began to feel
the fatal effects of indulging such a passion as that of platonic
affection. Though there had never been the slightest variation from the
strict line of virtuous friendship, yet, such was its power over me,
that I found it irresistible. I struggled to break the spell, but I
found it impossible; every effort that I made, only served to wind it
more closely round my heart. I confessed my weakness to Mrs. Hunt; and,
indeed, it was already too visible to her to require any confession on
my part. At length the time arrived for my departure, and the manner of
taking leave between myself and Mrs. Hunt, was very different from what
it had ever been before; it was distressing to both, and appeared to be
clouded with an ominous aspect.

Without dwelling any longer upon this painful subject, suffice it to
say, that notwithstanding it was the very eve of harvest, I proceeded on
my journey. I drove my old friend Robert Clare, in my curricle, and our
servants followed us on horseback. We arrived in the neighborhood of
Brighton, where we were received with great politeness. Clare went to
visit the gentleman, I, the lady. We remained a few days before we
departed for Brighton, where we had taken lodgings for the race-week.
Instead of being diminished, my attentions to the lady increased every
day, and as they became more pointed, and excited the notice of every
one, the husband remonstrated, and threatened to take the lady home.
In fact, he was urged on to do this by some of the lady's family. I
expostulated, but never relaxed my assiduities, and he was indecisive. A
storm was, however, gathering round us, which threatened to burst every
moment; and dreading that separation which appeared worse than death,
at the thoughts of which I was almost frantic, we took the desperate
resolution to put it out of the power of any one to part us. Brighton
was a dangerous place for persons in our situation; there was the Prince
of Wales, our present King, living with Mrs. Fitzherbert, in the most
open and public manner; this was an example too likely to have a baneful
effect upon two persons so doatingly fond of each other, that the very
idea of being parted, produced almost a momentary madness. Such was the
result of platonic affection. Without ever having made the slightest
approach to any thing criminal, our attachment was so riveted, that to
cease to exist would have been ten thousand times preferable to such a
separation, as would have finally deprived us of the power of enjoying
each other's society. The die was cast--my curricle was brought to the
door about one o'clock in the middle of the day; and I prevailed on
her to take a seat, which she did almost in a lifeless state, without
knowing where I was going to drive her. This did not excite the
particular observation of our friends who were of the party, as I was
in the habit of driving her out almost every day. As soon as we were
seated, I drove off to Lewes. Upon the road we met the Prince, Mrs.
Fitzherbert, and Sir John and Lady Lade, in a barouche, returning from
the races. The moment that we arrived at Lewes, I ordered four horses
to a post-chaise, and having written a short letter back to my friend
Clare, to explain the cause of our absence, we proceeded to London with
all possible speed. The friends of the lady followed her the next day,
and every offer was made to induce her to return; but the fatal step
being once taken, there was no retreating, and all entreaties were in
vain, though every inducement was offered and repeated for six or eight
months. I shall only add, that though there can be no justification
for such a rash step, yet if ever there was a female that had received
cause, which greatly palliated, almost to justification, she was that
person. The circumstances were so peculiar and so distressing, that no
legal proceedings were ever taken either against her or myself; but, on
the contrary, amicable arrangements were made.

Perhaps, and no doubt, it will be said by some, that I am an unfeeling,
barefaced offender, thus publicly to blazon forth my own errors. But I
claim the indulgence of my readers to recollect that I have undertaken
to write my own history, and, as I have promised to do it faithfully, no
consideration upon earth shall induce me to conceal from the public my
faults. They, and particularly the Reformers, shall, if I live, know
my character such as it is. It is a duty I owe to them as well as to
myself, and though this is a most painful duty, yet I am determined not
to shrink from the task of performing it with a rigid fidelity. Millions
of the most amiable and the most virtuous, if they cannot altogether
pardon, will know how to make a generous and liberal allowance for the
frailties of human nature. I have a much more difficult labour yet to
accomplish, in narrating the separation that took place between myself
and my wife, in consequence of this fatal step. But as I am quite sure
nothing I ever did in my life can make me appear half so bad as I have
been represented to be, by the venal public press of the country, I
shall proceed deliberately and resolutely to disclose the whole.

The circumstance of our departure from so public a place as Brighton
soon got into all the newspapers, and the intelligence had reached my
home at Chisenbury, long before I got there, whither I was obliged to
return, as it was just in the middle of harvest. I had written to a
friend to meet me there, and to prepare Mrs. Hunt for the interview.
Our meeting I will not attempt to describe; it was most painful for all
parties; I concealed nothing from my wife, and, when she knew the extent
of the evil, with a becoming spirit, she declared her determination not
to share a divided heart. Without going into a detail here, it will be
sufficient to say, that a separation was mutually agreed on, and her
relations were appointed to meet my attorney, to make the necessary
arrangements for carrying it into effect. I disclosed to my attorney my
circumstances as to property, and intrusted him to accede to the most
liberal settlement.

How many times, when I have come before the public, have I been taunted
by the hireling press, and its still baser agents, that I had turned my
wife out of doors to starve! How incessantly was this falsehood bawled
out, repeated, and reiterated, by the dirty hireling agents of the
contemptible Westminster Junto, so properly denominated by Mr. Cobbett
the Rump Committee! How often was this lie vomited forth upon the
hustings, by the _paid tools_ of the opposing candidates at the Bristol
and Westminster elections! Whenever I have argued for the right of every
Englishman to be free, for Universal Suffrage, or have pleaded the cause
of the poor, instead of answering my arguments, or controverting my
principles of justice and humanity, the answer has been, "you have
turned _your wife out of doors, to starve, Hunt, therefore we will not
listen to your doctrine_." This has been particularly the language of
that hypocritical faction the Whigs, or Burdettites; those pretended
sham friends of liberty, who, within the last seven years, have done
more to palsy public opinion, than all the Tories that ever lived
could have done. This Rump, this fag-end of a committee of Westminster
electors, that was once formed to support the freedom of election in
that city, but the members of which have, since the management of it got
into their hands, converted the power that they have assumed into an
engine of the basest corruption, and have proved themselves the most
tyrannical suppressors of public opinion, as well as the most determined
brutal destroyers of every thing like fair discussion; who, at all their
public meetings, whether held in Palace Yard or the Crown and Anchor,
have systematically put down, and forcibly prevented from delivering his
sentiments, every person that was not one of their own gang; who, with
coarse, vulgar, beastly hootings and yellings, have driven every honest
public man from their bacchanalian carousals at the Crown and Anchor;
this set of dirty underlings I have most narrowly watched, year after
year, during a long period; and, as I know all their tricks and
shufflings, I will faithfully lay them before the public, as I proceed
in my Memoirs. The ramifications of the mischief they have done, have
spread far and near. They have kept up a correspondence with some of
the most patriotic individuals in every principal town and city in the
kingdom; by which means they have frequently exercised the power which
they thus acquire, of stifling those sparks of popular fervour, that
would have long since kindled into an irrepressible blaze of patriotism,
had it not been for the sinister exertions of this foul extinguisher of
every particle of generous public liberty, that did not tend to promote
their own base and selfish ends; always acting, as they have done, under
the direction and immediate influence of their Grand Lama, or principal
juggler, Sir Francis Burdett, in whose pay they have most of them
been, directly or indirectly, for many years past. Unable to answer my
arguments, and dreading the exposure of their hero's trickery, this
gang, with a broad faced, impudent individual, of the name of Adams, a
currier, in Drury Lane, at their head, whenever I offered to address
them in public, have been always foremost in the cry of, "Hunt, you
turned your wife out of doors to starve;" and not satisfied with this,
these despicable wretches have worn the heels of their shoes off, in
running from door to door, and from pot-house to pot-house, to vilify me
behind my back, propagating the most bare-faced falsehoods, all of their
own fabrication. I will, by-and-bye, give the reader a specimen of one
of the stories invented by this Adams, and related to Mr. Cobbett by
the man himself, when he was confined in Newgate, in the year 1812; all
their lies ending with the usual burthen of the song, that "I had turned
my wife out of doors to starve." This man, Adams, was a witness in the
trial of Wright _v_. Cobbett, in the Court of King's Bench, some time
since, for a libel; and if he swore that which was attributed to him,
Mr. Cobbett neither did justice to himself nor to the public, by
declining to prosecute him for perjury.

But I will now proceed to detail the particulars of the settlement which
I made upon my wife at the time of our separation; and I have no doubt
that any statement, at the same time that it gives the lie direct to
the base assertions of the foregoing scoundrels, will convince every
unprejudiced, as well as every liberal and rational person in the
country, of the dastardly conduct of mine and my country's greatest
enemies, the hypocritical false friends of liberty. It will be
recollected by those who have done me the honour to read my Memoirs,
that when I married I received one thousand pounds as a fortune with my
wife; five hundred of which I lent immediately to one of her brothers,
without ever having taken it out of the house of my wife's father; which
five hundred pounds still remained, and continued to remain in his
hands, for several years after my being parted from his sister. I
mention this fact, here, to shew in what light her brothers and family
considered this separation. They looked upon it as a misfortune which
all lamented; but it is evident, from this circumstance, that they did
not look upon it in a criminal light; for, if they had done so, they
would not have continued a moment under such a pecuniary 61


obligation to me, which by them could have been so easily removed, as
they were all by this time in very good circumstances; and the brother,
James, who held this sum, was now in partnership with his elder brother,
John, the banker at Marlborough. My wife's fortune was, as I have said
before, one thousand pounds. The consideration then was, what sum I
should secure annually to Mrs. Hunt. I had given my attorney authority
to consent to, nay, to propose, the most liberal allowance; having made
him fully acquainted with my property and income, which I authorised
him to lay before her brother, who was acting in her behalf. After a
conference, my attorney informed me that he had proposed to allow Mrs.
Hunt an annuity of two hundred pounds, and secure it as a rent charge
upon my freehold and leasehold estates in Wiltshire and Somersetshire,
which he had no doubt would be accepted if I approved of it. My answer
was, "although this may be considered a liberal and handsome annuity to
my wife, when compared with the fortune I received with her, and as
a fair allowance, when taking all my property and prospects into
consideration, yet, as I am the _aggressor,/I>, I will, as far as I
have the power, make at least a pecuniary compensation. I shall not be
satisfied with what might be considered as fair; but I will make her a
liberal and generous allowance. I have now the means, and while I have
the means and the will to do her justice, I will put it out of my own
power to act otherwise. Go, and settle the annuity, draw up the deed,
and insert therein _three hundred pounds a year_, and I will sign it
immediately, for fear of any accident."

This was done as I directed, and it was also agreed that Mrs. Hunt
should have the care of our daughter, and I of our two sons, but that we
should both have free access to them whenever we pleased. All this being
arranged amicably, and in a manner perfectly satisfactory to Mrs. Hunt
and her relations, at least as far as pecuniary affairs went, and
as this annuity was regularly paid for nine years before another
arrangement was proposed by the trustee, her brother, which I shall
faithfully detail when I approach that period of my history, I would
fain hope that the calumnious cowards who have so often assailed me,
as having turned my wife out of doors to starve, will, at any rate, in
future, abstain from propagating such a bare-faced falsehood. When I
think of these things, perhaps I ought to thank them for urging me on to
this disclosure of my domestic arrangements; which, as I believe they
will not tell to my disadvantage, as to liberality, so I am quite sure
that nothing but such overwhelming and persevering calumnies would have
ever induced me to disclose them.

It was proposed that Mrs. Hunt should go and live with her relations;
but, as I thought three hundred pounds a year was quite sufficient to
make her independent of any one, and quite enough to enable her to keep
a small and respectable establishment of her own, I recommended that
she should take a house, and have her family to herself. She urged that
there would be the expence of purchasing furniture, &c. and that she
would rather, on that account, take furnished lodgings. I soon contrived
to overcome this difficulty; I was living in a large mansion, Chisenbury
House, containing four or five sitting rooms, and ten or twelve bed
rooms, amply and expensively furnished with plate, linen, china, and
every requisite for a large family, keeping a great deal of company. I,
therefore, without the least hesitation, followed up the liberality of
the original deed, by immediately offering a moiety of my household
furniture, plate, linen, china, books, &c. &c. which was more than
enough to furnish any moderately-sized house. This offer was no sooner
made than accepted this is another proof of the malignant falsehood
of the base editors of the venal press, and of the hireling tools of
"England's hope and Westminster's pride," the despicable Rump! "Well,
how did you manage to divide these things?" it will be asked! Why, in a
manner totally beyond the comprehension of these political _split-figs,
tailors, glass-cutters, leather- dressers, and curriers_ of the
Westminster Rump. Instead of doing as these fellows would have done
under such circumstances, instead of sending for a broker or an
appraiser, I acted as follows: I desired her to send for a cabinet maker
and his man, and make them pack up a half of every thing, which I should
leave entirely to her own choice; and as I was going from home, which I
did for the purpose of leaving the whole arrangement to herself, I left
an order for my bailiff to place any number of waggons and horses at her
disposal, to convey whatever she might choose to have packed up, to
her house at Marlborough, and before I left home I placed one hundred
pounds, exclusive of the annuity, in her hands, adding, that if she did
not pack up the best half of every thing, it was her own fault. Look at
this, ye venal, calumniating crew, and hide your diminished heads. Ye
paltry tools of the Baronet, ye _Places, Adamses, Clearys, Brookses, and
Richters_, belonging to the Rump of Westminster! You have dragged this
statement forth, you have given me an opportunity of doing justice to
myself, in this particular.

I understand there has been a great desire amongst this crew, to see how
I should get over this part of my domestic history. The base vermin,
some of them, I know, expected that I should follow the example of
_higher authority_ and traduce my wife, as a justification for my own
errors and frailties. Gracious God!--traduce my wife!--calumniate the
mother of my children! Rather than have been guilty of such baseness,
rather than have done this, even if she had been exactly the reverse of
what she is, instead of being all truth, purity and goodness, if she had
been guilty of some errors and indiscretions, even then I would rather
have plucked my tongue from my mouth, and have cast it into the fire,
much rather than have uttered a breath of slander against my wife, or
have whispered a calumny against the mother of my children.

Mrs. Hunt did as I requested her, and the first time I paid her a
visit, at her new residence, at Marlborough, which was about a month
afterwards, I found that she had not only got furniture enough to
furnish a comfortable house, but that she had a room-full over what was
necessary. Some of my readers will stare to hear me talk of visiting
my wife, under such circumstances, and after such a formal separation.
But so it was; and I can say further, though we have had the misfortune
to be divided, I do not believe that any human being ever heard either
of us cast any reflection, or throw out any the slightest imputation
against the other. I have always treated her and spoken of her as the
amiable mother of my children, and she, I believe, has spoken of me at
all times as the affectionate, though in this respect the unfortunate
father, of her children.

Thus have I, without the slightest disguise, given a faithful and
unvarnished detail of this melancholy and distressing event. This has
been the only drawback, the only thing that my enemies could ever bring
fairly against me, that I was separated from my wife--an assertion which
was too true to admit of dispute; but all the other calumnies against
one are as false and as groundless, as that _of having turned my wife
out of doors to starve_. Having said thus much, I am sure that the
reader will not expect that I shall be constantly wounding the feelings
of an amiable and extensive family, by dwelling upon and publishing
every little anecdote of my private domes tic concerns. It is enough
to say here, that it is now nearly nineteen years since this event
occurred, and I will briefly add, that, placing this unfortunate family
affliction out of the question, no man living ever enjoyed nineteen
years of such uninterrupted domestic felicity with less alloy than I
have done. No man's home was ever more agreeable than mine was at all
times to me; and I sincerely believe, that this alone has enabled me
to support and to survive the great public exertions that I have been
constantly making for so many years past.

To all those who may exclaim against my errors, I can only say, in the
language of the greatest Reformer that ever came upon the earth,
"_let him or her that is without sin cast the first stone." How many
profligate and abandoned scoundrels will read this, and casting their
hypocritical eyes up, "like a duck in thunder," will exclaim and rave
against my failings! How many profligate, debauched rakes, when sneaking
home to their wives and families from stews and brothels, will, to
disguise their own debauchery, profess to rail still at me! How many
abandoned, though slyly intriguing city dames, will cast their arms
around their husbands' necks, as a proof of their own virtue, or rather
to disguise their own frailties, and exclaim aloud against me! None but
the truly virtuous know how to make a liberal allowance for the
failings of others. My father used to observe, and he set it down as
an invariable rule, that the most abandoned and profligate secretly
intriguing females, were always the most unforgiving, unrelenting
persecutors of any one of their own sex, who had committed an error, or
fallen into a misfortune of this sort. A lady, of the parish of Enford,
who having been railing in an unmerciful manner against a servant girl
who had the misfortune to have an illegitimate child, my father remarked
privately to me, that it was a sure proof to him, that she was no better
than she should be. A few weeks afterwards, this very same dame was
detected in an intrigue with the _house thresher_!

I trust the reader will not think that I am endeavoring to justify the
crime of incontinency, seduction or debauchery; quite the reverse; there
is a very broad distinction between justifying a crime, and making a
liberal and humane allowance for the frailties of poor human nature.
Those females who are really chaste, and who practice rather than
profess virtue, are always tender and sparing of their censure of
the misfortunes and errors of others of their own sex: so it is with
honourable and virtuous men; although they would by no means encourage
vice, yet they take a very different course to eradicate it, than that
of declaiming publicly against those who have not been so successful as
themselves in resisting temptation.

How many living instances could I point out, as illustrations of this
self-evident proposition. It was but yesterday I had before me a glaring
specimen of the sort of canting hypocrisy which is the object of my
censure. It was a reverend and dignified pillar of the church, as demure
as a saint, turning up his eyes, and professing and preaching morality,
which I had more than once or twice before heard him do, while, with
a sanctified leer, he expressed great horror at my breach of conjugal
chastity, or violation of the marriage vow. The reader will easily
imagine the manner in which I eyed him, while he was uttering these
truly religious and moral doctrines, when I inform him that, only a few
hours before, an old neighbouring farmer had been relating to me and
my friends, a little of the private history of this chaste and pious
parson. It seems, by this old gentleman's account, that this now worthy
and dignified clergyman of the Church of England, who was originally a
mere clerical adventurer, the better to enable himself to perform that
duty which he had recently sworn that he was called by the Holy Ghost to
execute, took to himself an antiquated damsel for a wife; but what she
was deficient in beauty and youth, she made up in the scale by the
weight of her purse; and my informant observed that, during the life
time of the "first madam," not a servant girl could live in his house,
without giving evident proofs that the rosy-gilled priest was not quite
purified from the sinful lust of the flesh, notwithstanding the call he
had received from the Holy Ghost, and the all-powerful ordination of the
Holy Bishop of the diocese to boot.

I could not only, fill this number, but I could fill a volume, with
instances of this sort in this very neighbourhood. Let me only take half
a score of clergyman, and half a score of magistrates, of this part
of the county of Somerset; and in merely detailing the scenes of
_debauchery, seduction and desertion_ of which they have been
notoriously guilty, I could fill a book that would excite the horror and
detestation of every rational mind. Let it be observed that I do not
by any means class the whole, nor any considerable portion, of the
magistracy or clergy in this list; God forbid I should, because I
believe there are many, and I know there are some, very excellent and
truly good men amongst them. "Well," it may be said, "and what of all
this, because some Justices and Parsons are profligate, debauched, and
abandoned, would you infer that to be any justification or palliation
for your errors?" Not in the least. I do not wish to assume any such
ridiculous proposition. All I mean to say is, it brings me to this
conclusion, that as we are by our very nature liable to err, and that as
it is quite clear that those who are the most forward to condemn
others are not always totally free from the frailties of human nature
themselves; it therefore behoves us, while we have "the _beam_ in our
own eye," not to be too officious in exposing the "_mote_ in the eye
of another." But, after all, I will boldly and fearlessly rest my own
character upon the following issue. If any one of those who have been
railing against me, will come forward; _if any person_, male or female,
will come forward and establish _one act of seduction_ against me, even
from the earliest period of my life, up to this hour; if they will
produce one illegitimate offspring of mine, or prove that there ever
has been such, even by common report; I hereby solemnly promise not to
write, or have published, one more line as long as I remain in this
prison. And further; if any one will come forward and prove, that I have
ever been the inmate of a brothel, or been ever seen within the walls
of a house of ill-fame, since the day I was married, _twenty-five years
ago;_ or that I ever, in the whole course of my life, seduced, and
afterwards deserted, a female; I do hereby solemnly declare, that upon
such proof being established, I will, within one month from the time I
leave this gaol, voluntarily banish myself from this country; and so far
from ever appearing again in public, I will never again set foot upon
British ground. I make no protestations of being more virtuous than
other men; but after having made this voluntary offer, if no one accept
it, if no one come forward, then in common charity, for the sake of the
national character, let these my calumniators for ever afterwards hold
their peace. It may be said this is nobody's business; but this answer
will not do; it has been every venal knave's business; it has been the
business of the corrupt scoundrels of Bristol; it was the daily and
hourly business of the debauched editors of the public newspapers of
that city, when I offered myself as a candidate there at two contested
elections. It has also been the business of the corrupt and profligate
editors of almost all the London daily, and most of the London Sunday
newspapers, to abuse and calumniate my private character, whenever
I have come before the public, at the call of my distressed
fellow-countrymen; whether it was at a public meeting, or at a contested
election, they made it their business to vomit forth every species of
unmanly abuse against me. It has, even in a still greater degree, been
the business of those hirelings composing the Westminster Rump; it has
been the particular business of the Whigs, the Burdettites, and the
Tories; all equally hostile to real liberty; it has been their business
openly and covertly to slander and vilify me, for the last twelve or
fourteen years. I now, therefore, call upon every one of these
corrupt and despicable knaves to come forward, either individually or
collectively, and substantiate _some one_ of those charges which they
have so long, so repeatedly, and so unblushingly preferred against me.
Upon all occasions, they have unequivocally and unanimously denounced
me as an enemy to social order, an enemy to the Whigs, an enemy to the
Tories, and an enemy, as they say, to the country.

Now, then, is their time to silence me, if they have it in their power
to establish one of the crimes with which they have charged me; but
if they remain silent, and cannot establish any one of their charges
against me, what a race of cowardly, profligate beings they must feel
themselves to be! But the fact is, that all

these vermin _know_ that they were propagating the most barefaced and
wanton falsehoods against me. And who are these men that have been the
foremost to accuse me? Some of the most degraded, swinish, and abandoned
of the human race. And what has been the cause of all their hostility to
me? Why, merely because I have been the undisguised and uncompromising
advocate of the people's rights and liberties; because I have publicly
and unequivocally, upon all occasions, maintained the right of annual
parliaments, universal suffrage, and vote by ballot: in this I have been
joined by the great mass of the people of England. and Scotland. For
my public exertions in 1816 and 1817, to promote this great cause, I
received the most cordial testimony of the regard and esteem of my
fellow-countrymen--I received repeated votes of thanks from almost every
town and city of consequence in the kingdom, and particularly from the
North, and from Scotland. I believe I had the approbation of _nine
tenths_ of the industrious and most valuable classes of the community,
because I fearlessly advocated the right--the constitutional right of
all these useful and industrious classes to partake--practically to
partake, of that constitution which compelled them to risk their lives
and property, if called upon by the government, in its defence. This
I did, regardless of all, of every faction, whether _Whig, Tory_, or
_Burdettite_; for at this period there was a considerable faction,
composed principally of _petty shop-keepers_, and _little tradesmen_,
who, under the denomination of _tax-paying housekeepers_, enlisted
themselves under the banners of Sir Francis Burdett, in order to set
themselves up as a sort of privileged class, above the _operative_
manufacturer, the artizan, the mechanic, and the labourer. Thus, at the
very time that all these classes of operative manufacturers, artizans,
mechanics, and labourers, consisting of three-fourths of the population
of the kingdom; at the very time, in 1816, when almost the whole of
these persons had become united in one object, and had held meetings all
over the kingdom, and upwards of a million and a half of them had signed
petitions to be presented to Parliament, demanding universal suffrage;
at this very juncture, which was immediately after the first meeting
held in Spa-fields, lo and behold, Sir Francis Burdett, _hitherto our
great leader_ in the cause of public liberty, DECLARED OFF and deserted
us, by avowing himself the enemy of universal suffrage, and declaring
that he would not support any reform that had for its object to extend
the suffrage beyond _house__ holders_; thus, at one sweeping blow,
blasting the hopes, and driving out of the pale of the constitution, at
least two-thirds of the population; and that part, too, the most useful
and most industrious, and therefore the most beneficial to the nation!
The Baronet declared that he would support the _householder suffrage_
--that those who occupied a house, and paid King's and Parish taxes
directly to the tax-gatherer, should have a vote for members of the
Commons' or People's House of Parliament; but that all the junior
branches of families, all lodgers, every person who was not the master
of a house, should be excluded altogether from any share in electing
those who make the laws, by which EVERY ONE'S liberty, life, and
property is to be disposed of.

Up to this time, the Baronet had stood so high in the public estimation,
and was so much looked up to and respected, not only by me, but by all
those who took a lead in the general cause of public liberty, that his
word had hitherto been A LAW in these matters; in fact, he had not only
gone with us, but he had run before us, and all our difficulty was, to
keep up to his mark, for he was always complaining of the apathy of the
people, and declaring that they did not deserve liberty, unless they
would exert themselves, and join him in demanding it; and he was
everlastingly urging us, who laboured under him for the cause (Major
Cartwright, Mr. Cobbett, myself, and others), to excite and rouse the
people into action, to support his exertions in the House. But when, in
1816, Mr. Cobbett and Major Cartwright had, by their writings, and I and
others had by our speeches and resolutions, passed at public meetings,
roused the people into a sense of their public duty, to petition the
Parliament for their individual, collective, and _universal_ rights,
behold the Baronet stopped short, and turning sharp round, declared that
he would not go with us; and that he would only support the right of
liberty for householders, leaving all the rest of the community in a
state of abject slavery and bondage! Up to this period--till this
fatal decision, with the exception of one or two little obliquities of
conduct, Sir F. Burdett had enjoyed the confidence, and received the
support of every wise, good, and disinterested man in the nation;
because every one believed that he was sincere in his protestations for
the universal freedom of mankind. But, now, for the first time,
his supporters dwindled into a faction of _shopkeepers_ and
_housekeepers_--a little selfish crew, who were anxious to enjoy liberty
themselves, and who were elated at the thoughts of becoming a sort of
privileged class, above and distinct from the great body of the
people. From this cause arose a new faction, under the denomination of

It will be recollected, that, at this period, not one of the Whigs came
up to this mark even of _householders_. A few of the most liberal of the
Whigs, viewing with alarm the rising spirit of the people, thought they
must do something--that they must make some show of approach towards
a more liberal system; they, therefore, joined the city cock, Mr.
Waithman, and held a meeting at the Free- Masons' Tavern, where they
manfully declared their readiness to support a Reform, upon the
principle of _triennial_, instead of _septennial_ Parliaments; but not
one word of any alteration in the suffrage;--not one of this faction was
then bold or honest enough to support the Burdettite faction, even in
their humbug of householder suffrage; and the consequence was, that the
Burdettites, or little shopkeeper faction, made a great parade about
how much further they were disposed to go than the Waithmanite, or Whig

At a great meeting of delegates, from all parts of the kingdom, and
particularly from the North, and from Scotland, held at the Crown and
Anchor, to settle the sort of Reform that should be adopted by the
people, Major Cartwright and Mr. Cobbett proposed _to limit the suffrage
to householders_, for two reasons-- first, upon the plea now exploded,
of the _impracticability_ of every man enjoying freedom or universal
suffrage; and secondly, for the purpose of joining and still clinging
to Sir Francis Burdett, without whose name and co-operation, it was
contended that no plan of reform could be carried into effect. I,
however, stood boldly up for the great and just principle of universal
suffrage, and moved, as an amendment to the motion made by Mr. Cobbett,
that instead of _householder suffrage_, universal suffrage should be
substituted. After a long and animated debate, my amendment was carried
by a vote of sixty; three hands only being held up against it. For
this uncompromising, for this determined support of the principles of
universal suffrage, in opposition to the _householder_ plan of Sir
Francis Burdett, I have ever since been pursued by the vindictive
hostility, both openly and covertly, not only of the Baronet's Rump
Committee, but of the whole of the Burdett faction, who have, in
conjunction with the base and hypocritical Whig faction, been ten times
more virulent against me, than even the Tory or Government faction. It
may be said, that this is a singular and long digression, and that I am
forestalling my history. It is very true; but I deem it necessary to
repeat and reiterate the foregoing circumstances, so that a great number
of honest and truly excellent Reformers may be able clearly to
account for some part of my conduct, which may hitherto have appeared
inexplicable. Thousands of very worthy friends of liberty, must have
been puzzled and staggered by the violent attacks and calumnies that
have been levelled at me, in those public prints that have been
generally understood to be the staunch supporters of the principles
of freedom; but if they will look back, and narrowly examine into the
objects and views of these public prints, they will find that they have
been merely the vehicles, by which the Burdettite faction have directed
their envenomed shafts against me. Thousands of very sincere and honest
friends of liberty have been and are puzzled, to understand how it is,
that I have met with such cowardly and unmanly opposition at the _Rump
Westminster Dinners_, at the Crown and Anchor; and thousands of equally
worthy and honourable men, are disposed to question my pretensions to
public favour, upon the ground of the beastly and factious opposition
which I have some time experienced from the Whig Waithmanites, at the
Common Halls, in the City of London. But as I go along, I will undertake
to show the cause of that opposition, and expose the motives of that
little city faction, as clear as day-light. Nothing can, indeed, be more
plain than this fact, which is, that these factions, one and all, are
opposed to the principles of universal Liberty. They have all of them
their little, petty, selfish objects to obtain, and in the pursuit of
them, they know their greatest obstacle to be, that they cannot any
longer make the people their dupes and tools; and they know too, that no
man has been so zealously and so perseveringly instrumental as I have
been, to keep the people steady in one common pursuit--that of obtaining
something for themselves--that of struggling for the interest of the
whole community; and they know and feel that nothing could ever warp
me from my duty to the public; that I could never be bamboozled nor
muzzled, nor silenced, nor bribed, by any one of these factions; and
this, this it is that has roused against me their rage and their
hostility; and in proportion as I have exposed their sophistry so has
their malignity increased. Finding that they could neither answer nor
controvert my principles, nor put me down, they have been base enough
to resort to slander, and to the most wanton and barefaced falsehoods,
which they have trumped up to blacken me. The separation from my wife
was a subject that they never failed to urge against me, after having
tortured it into a thousand aggravated shapes; not one of which
was true. If, however, I would but have joined any one of these
factions--would have followed the example of Sir Francis Burdett, and
deserted the great mass of the people, by going over to, and joining
even the _shopkeeper_ or _householder_ faction, I might have deserted
my wife, and left her to starve, with impunity. I might have been as
profligate as any of my calumniators--might have been as debauched as
a Prince, or as abandoned as some of these Justice Parsons, and yet I
might have passed for one of the most pious and virtuous characters in
the kingdom, particularly if I had put on a little demure sanctified
hypocrisy. I believe there is no other man in the world, besides myself,
but who would have been overwhelmed and driven from the field of
politics, by the incessant attacks--by the premeditated and infamous
slanders that have been poured out against me. And it is certainly a
fact--it is quite true, that nothing on earth could have enabled me to
keep my ground, but the purity of my intentions, and the conviction of
my heart, that the holy cause for which I have been contending, is just
and equitable; nor would any thing on earth induce me to persevere, but
the solemn conviction that it is the law of God and Nature, that man
should enjoy civil and religious freedom, and that no law of God or
Nature ever condemned a human being to be either a religious or a
political slave.

But now to return to my narrative. After this great change in my
domestic affairs, I made full as great a change in my course of life. I
immediately abolished all the accustomed carousals and feasts that I had
been in the habit of giving at Chisenbury-house. I continued the society
of a few select friends, but I cast off the busy, fluttering, flattering
throng--the fawning, cringing crew--that had been used to crowd my
table. I took a house in Bath, and spent the following winter in
comparative retirement, in which I was blessed with the society of two
or three rational and intelligent friends.

This being a period of peace, there was very little political news
afloat. The circumstance that most excited public attention at this
time, was the visit of Mr. Fox to Paris, where he was received by the
First Consul with every mark of regard and respect. Gracious God! that
Mr. Fox could but have lived to have known that this illustrious man
should first become Emperor of France, and now be imprisoned on a barren
rock, that the English Government should be his gaoler, and that they
should cut him off from all communication with the world, and prohibit
him from the society of his wife and child! If Mr. Fox could but have
lived to have known this, or could have anticipated any such event, he
would with his manly eloquence have roused the dastard apathy of the
people of England into a just sense of this disgrace, and the national
dishonour, as becoming parties to so cowardly and unjust a measure.

The hireling ministerial press of the metropolis was now using the
most inflammatory language against the First Consul of France, for
the purpose, if possible, of creating a new war; and they were daily
spreading the most monstrous and barefaced falsehoods against him, to
stimulate the fears and the prejudices of John Bull, by representing him
as a tyrant and a monster, who had been, and who would be, guilty of all
sorts of cruelties and atrocities, and whose aim it still was, to subdue
and conquer England, that he might make us all _slaves_ and beasts of
burden. Thus were the credulous people of England duped by the paid
ministerial agents of government, while Napoleon was most anxious to
remain at peace, and particularly at peace with England, that he might
consolidate his own power upon the Continent, and protect the people of
France against the inroads and tyranny of the despots that surrounded
them. The infamous and dastardly conduct of the English ministerial
writers drew down the execration of the whole civilized world, and the
Moniteur, the official newspaper of the French government, announced the
indignation and resentment of the First Consul at the conduct of the
Court of London, for encouraging and sanctioning such brutal libels. It
declared that "every line printed by the English ministerial journalists
_is a line of blood_." The reader, who does not recollect the infamous
conduct of the ministerial scribes of that day, will find but little
difficulty in believing this assertion to be true, when they reflect
upon the atrocious and cowardly language of the ministerial hirelings
of the present day, and read the obscure balderdash and blood-thirsty
principles published in the _Dull Post_, the _Mock Times_, and the
_Lying Courier_.

Before I go any further, it is proper for me to remind the reader that
it ought never to be forgotten, by the people of England, that Napoleon
had been acknowledged by the English government, as the legitimate ruler
of France, that very Napoleon whom they now keep a prisoner upon a
barren rock at Saint Helena, contrary to every principle of justice and
humanity, and in violation of all law, and particularly in violation of
the law of nations, notwithstanding Mr. Brougham's priggish assertions
to the contrary.

Notwithstanding the jealousy of the English government, and the cowardly
slanders of the English ministerial writers, Napoleon assumed great
power in France, which the French people were induced to concede to him,
that he might be the better able to contend against the intrigues and
treachery of the British ministers: he placed himself at the head of
the christian church; he caused a new constitution to be adopted in
Switzerland; he compelled the Barbary powers to make peace; he
was courted by Prussia; he entered into an agreement, called the
_Concordat_, with the Pope; he granted an amnesty to the emigrants,
which created him a host of friends; and ultimately, in the course of
this year, the French government appointed him Consul for life, and the
new constitution which he had proposed was approved throughout France.
Ambassadors were exchanged between the two powers, England and France,
but the administration of England was jealous, suspicious, and in fact
never cordially cemented the peace, into which they had been compelled,
from circumstances, to enter. On their part, as it will be seen
hereafter, it was nothing more or less _than a hollow deceitful truce_.

On the nineteenth of November, this year, (1802), Colonel Despard and
nine other persons were apprehended, on a charge of high treason; and,
after many examinations before the privy council, they were ultimately
committed to prison, on the twenty-ninth of the same month, to take
their trials for high treason. This plot, as it was called, caused a
very considerable sensation throughout the country. It was stated to
have been entered into not only to dethrone, but to kill the King, as he
was going from his Palace to the Parliament House, through the Park, by
blowing him and his attendants to atoms, by firing the long piece of
ordnance at them when they came near the Horse Guards; and it was
asserted that Colonel Despard had formed and entered into this
conspiracy, to shoot the King and overturn the government, with the said
piece of ordnance, in consequence of the ministers refusing to attend
to, and liquidate, some claims that he had upon the government. The
ministers contrived to create a considerable alarm throughout the whole
empire, amongst the credulous, and such as were easily terrified by the
explosion of this ridiculous _pop-gun plot_.

The ministers, however, were obliged to repeal the income tax, as a
bribe to the landed interest, upon whom it was considered to fall
particularly heavy, although the removal of it was looked upon as a
boon to every one who paid it. This was a _peace_ offering, such as
our present ministers appear determined not to bestow upon us,
notwithstanding we are now in the sixth year of peace. This year there
was a loan of twenty-three millions raised. The taxes were enormous,
that of the poor rates alone having amounted to five millions. The
average price of the quartern loaf, during the twelve months, was one
shilling. The prime minister was the Right Honourable Harry Addington,
now Lord Sidmouth; Mr. Perceval was Attorney, and Mr. Manners Sutton was
the Solicitor-general; the Chief Justice Lord Kenyon, having received
his sentence, and been condemned to be banished to another world, by the
Judge of judges, Mr. Law was created Lord Ellenborough, and appointed
Chief Justice of the King's Bench.

On the third of January, 1803, a special commission was issued under the
Great Seal, to inquire of certain high treasons committed within the
county of Surrey; and on the twenty-first of January, it was opened
at the Sessions House at Newington--present on the bench, Lord
Ellenborough, Sir Alexander Thompson, Sir Simon Le Blanc, and Sir Alan
Chambre. The grand jury were sworn, composed of Lord Leslie, foreman,
Lord William Russel, Sir Thomas Turton, and others, and after a long
speech from the newly made Chief Justice, which, by the bye, was quite
unnecessary, the said grand jury returned a true bill against Edward
Marcus Despard and twelve others; throwing out the bills that were
preferred against SOME OTHERS who were known to have been deeply
implicated with Colonel Despard. The Court then adjourned to the fifth
of February, after having, at the request of the prisoner Despard,
assigned Mr. SERGEANT BEST and Mr. GURNEY as his counsel.

On Saturday, the fifth of February, 1803, the court met, pursuant
to adjournment, at the Sessions House at Newington, the same Judges
presiding as before. Edward Marcus Despard and twelve others were placed
at the bar, and severally pleaded not guilty. On Monday, the seventh of
February, the Court met again at nine o'clock in the morning--present,
Ellenborough, Thompson, Le Blanc, and Chambre, as before. There were
nine counsel employed by the crown, as follow: Attorney and Solicitor
General, Perceval and Manners Sutton, Sergeant Shepherd, Plumer, Garrow,
Common Sergeant, Wood, Fielding, and Abbott. Counsel for Colonel
Despard, Mr. SERGEANT BEST and Mr. GURNEY. The prisoner being placed
at the bar, the following jury were sworn, _Grant Allan, William Dent,
William Davidson, Gabriel Copland, William Coxson, John Farmer, John
Collinson, James Webber, Gilbert Handyside, John Hamer, Peter Dubree,_
and _John Field_. I am sure the reader will agree with me, that nothing
can be more desirable than to record the names of all the parties
concerned in such melancholy and bloody transactions, that they may
be handed down to posterity for the use and information of the rising
generation, that they may be enabled the better to judge of the motives
and management of the prosecutors, and the degree of guilt or innocence
of the accused. What a subject for the reflecting mind, to watch the
rise and progress of those concerned in the various transactions of
this sort, which have occurred during our own time, and within our own
memory. As my opinion is, that Colonel Despard fell a sacrifice to the
intrigues and the spy plots of the ministers of that day, and their
detestable agents, that the verdict was obtained against him by perjury,
and that he was in no degree guilty of the charges that were preferred
against him, it will be most interesting to watch the progress of those
concerned in his prosecution and trial, and to mark their end.

Upon the trial of Colonel Despard a number of witnesses swore the most
outrageous things against him, but the two principal witnesses were
two soldiers; one of these men, it is said, left England immediately
afterwards, and was never again heard of by any one in this country; the
other, as I was informed by Mr. Clifford, confessed upon his death bed,
that he had been bribed to swear against the Colonel, that what he had
sworn was false, and that he had been instructed what to say, and he
did so, for doing which he received a considerable sum. These were
two fellows of the most abandoned character, as came out upon their
cross-examination, (SUCH AS IT WAS), but the evidence for the
prosecution was so inconsistent, and so ridiculously improbable, that
one is astounded at the thought, how it was possible for any twelve
men in the kingdom, indiscriminately and fairly chosen, to have said
_guilty_ upon such testimony, and that principally upon the testimony of
accomplices. But, what was more extraordinary than all the rest, was,
that, although there was a ROOM FULL of witnesses for the prisoner, many
of them most respectable, who were ready and willing to disprove a great
deal that the witnesses for the prosecution had sworn, and to prove that
several of the principal witnesses were not worthy to be believed upon
their oath, yet, to the astonishment of the Court, to the grief and
sorrow of the prisoner's friends and relations, to the wonder of the
whole country, _the counsel for the prisoner never called one of these
witnesses._ Gracious God! the bare recollection of this circumstance
freezes one's blood with horror! I have received a letter from a friend
of the colonel, to say, that when they found the counsel were only
calling a few witnesses to character, they, the colonel's friends and
relations, wrote him a note, imploring him to demand that these most
important witnesses should be called and examined. But he returned this
fatal answer, "I have trusted my case in the hands of my counsel, and in
them I place implicit confidence; I shall therefore not interfere with
them." Oh fatal confidence!

It is not for me to accuse the counsel of having betrayed and sold their
client; but it is my firm and unalterable opinion, that, had these
witnesses who were in attendance been called for the prisoner, no jury
would ever have pronounced the word--guilty. Thank God! I made up my
mind long, long ago, never to trust my life or my liberty in the hands
of a counsel! I have not the least doubt, not the shadow of a doubt upon
my mind, that, if the government could have been sure that I would
have trusted my defence in the hands of a counsel, if they could have
indulged in a well-grounded hope, that I would have committed my case
to the keeping of the worthy _Counsellor Scarlett_, but that they
would have tried and convicted me and my friends of high treason, for
attending the peaceable meeting at Manchester; for which, as it was,
they could not even get me convicted of a conspiracy, though they had
packed a tractable Yorkshire Whig jury. But if they could have got me
to place a brief in the hands of the worthy and able WHIG SCARLETT, I
should have been tried for high treason, and the evidence of _Hulton,
Entwistle_, and _Andrew_, would have been so beautifully managed, that
I am quite sure a packed Yorkshire Whig jury, with the Halls, the
Chaytors, the Hultons, the Chadwicks, and the Oddys, at their head,
would, under the dexterous management of the worthy hermaphrodite
politician, Mr. Scarlett, have, and upon the self-same evidence, found
me guilty either of high treason, or of sheep stealing, whichever
might have best suited the purpose of the prosecutors. Under such
circumstances, had I left my life in the hands of Mr. Scarlett,
notwithstanding I should have subpoenaed, and had in attendance, _one
hundred and fifty witnesses_, to contradict all the perjury sworn by
the aforesaid _trio_, I should not have been surprised if Mr. Scarlett,
instead of calling them, had contented himself with calling, perhaps,
Parson Hay and Mr. Nadin to my character, under the pretence that,
twenty years before, they had known me a very loyal man in the Everly or
Marlborough troop of yeomanry cavalry.

The only witnesses called for poor Colonel Despard, were three complete
Government men; Lord Nelson, Sir Alured Clark, and Sir Evan Nepean,
Bart. Gracious God! only look at this! The counsel for the prisoner well
knew that these evidence to character were not worth a straw; for they
had not known any thing of Colonel Despard for many years past, and yet
these men were called, and others of the most vital importance were not
called. Gracious God! as Mr.---- now Sir Thomas Lethbridge, would say,
it almost makes my hair stand an end upon my head! Two out of three,
viz. _Clark_ and _Nepean_, upon their cross-examination, evidently gave
such testimony as told much more against him than for him. But Lord
Nelson spoke of him as follows:-- " We went on the Spanish Main
together; we slept many nights together under the same blanket, in our
clothes, upon the ground; we have measured the height of the enemy's
walls together. In all that period of time, no man could have shown more
zealous attachment to his Sovereign and his country than Colonel Despard
did. I formed the highest opinion of him at that time, as a man and an
officer; seeing him so willing in the service of his Sovereign. Having
lost sight of him for the last twenty years, if I had been asked my
opinion of him, I should certainly have said--if he be alive, he is
certainly one of the brightest ornaments of the British army." This was
certainly a just and true description of Colonel Despard's character;
but let us see how Lord Nelson finished his cross-examination, by the
Attorney General. What your Lordship has been stating, was in the
year 1780?-- "Yes." Have you had much intercourse with him since that
time?--"I have never seen him since the 29th of April, 1780." Then as
to his loyalty for the last twenty-three years of his life, you know
nothing?--"NOTHING." Gracious God! and THERE Mr. SERGEANT BEST left his
examination. Let the reader only look back at the trial, and read
the mawkish cross-examination of the villain Windsor, by the learned
Sergeant, and he will make up his mind to two things the very moment
he has finished it:--the first is, never to feel surprise again at the
verdict against Colonel Despard; and the second is, that he will never
trust his own life in the hands of an aspiring place-hunting lawyer.

After a very short speech from Mr.SERGEANT BEST and Mr. Gurney, wherein
they both apologized to the jury for its _length_, and a very long and
able reply from the Solicitor-General, and a very long summing up by
Lord Ellenborough, the jury withdrew for about twenty-five minutes, and
a little before three o'clock on the Tuesday morning, they returned a
verdict Of GUILTY. The foreman added, "MY LORD, WE DO MOST EARNESTLY
Judge said not a word. But where is the man of the present day, who
has read of the verdict of wilful murder given by the jury, at
Horsham Assizes, against the person upon the preventive service, who
deliberately shot a man, and who has since read of the pardon that has
bean granted to that person, but would have expected that the very
strong and emphatic recommendation of the jury, for the extension of
mercy to Colonel Despard, would have received some attention. No! no!
Colonel Despard had _opposed_ and _exposed_ the Government, and he was
hanged in the front of the county gaol at Horsemonger Lane, and after
having been suspended about twelve minutes and a half, his head was
taken off, (_the King having most graciously remitted the execution of
the remainder of the sentence_.) Thus died Colonel Despard, who, though
he was not a man of great talent, yet he was, in the language, the words
of Lord Nelson, "as brave as Caesar." But, as the vulgar saying goes,
"the death of the horse is the life of the "dog," and "it is an ill-wind
that blows nobody good." The learned Sergeant BEST displayed such
_extraordinary_ talents upon this trial, that he was rewarded with a
silk gown within one month afterwards. It has been confidently asserted
that when the Prince Regent had incessantly, but in vain, urged the Lord
Chancellor to promote a certain Welsh Judge, this venerable Peer once
answered, "I "cannot conscientiously recommend venality "to the English
Bench." "_Ellenborough, Thompson, Le Blanc_, and _Chambre_, the four
Judges, have long, long ago gone to stand at the bar of a special
commission to receive the sentence of the Judge of judges; but it is
doubtful whether they carried with them so strong a recommendation
to mercy as that which was urged, in vain, for poor Despard. We all
recollect how the then Attorney-General, Spencer Perceval, went out of
the world headlong by a shot, from the unerring aim of Bellingham. The
junior counsel for the exown, ABBOTT, and the senior counsel for the
prisoner, BEST, are both now placed in the same seat in the Court of
King's Bench. It also is a fact worth recording, that the _most violent_
of all Colonel Despard's associates had _no Bill_ found against him,
although _two_ were preferred, one in Surrey and one in Middlesex.
It came out in evidence, that this person was more violent and more
determined than any other, and made use of the most outrageous
denunciations against the Government, and against any of his comrades
who might betray them, or refuse to go the lengths that he did. The
Government had this evidence, and it came out, upon the examination of
Thomas Blades, that this person threatened that he would blow any one's
brains out that showed any symptoms of cowardice, and that he would
plant a dagger in the breast of any one who should divulge their secret.
And yet, the same Grand Jury that found the Bills against Colonel
Despard and others, threw out the Bills against this said violent and
courageous gentleman. This is exactly the same game that was played by
Edwards and Castles; these two scoundrels were the most violent, and
urged on their unfortunate victims to deeds of desperation, yet they
escaped not only punishment but even indictment. What a lesson for
all Reformers, to avoid the snares of the most violent men, who are
generally the agents of Government! All these worthies contrived to get
into my company, _Castles_ ONCE, _Edwards_ ONCE, and this said person
who played such an active part in Colonel Despard's affair ONCE, and
_only once_ each; _once_ was quite enough for me. It has often been
said, by my friends, that Providence interfered to prevent my falling
into the trap of these villains. It is very true; but Providence
interfered in this way, Providence gave me resolution never to attend
any private meetings, never to be concerned in any private cabal, never
to get drunk, or associate with persons who frequented public houses; in
fact, Providence has filled my heart with a desire to promote the
welfare and happiness of my fellow-creatures, by a bold, straight
forward, public, open course. In private life, I have relaxed into all
the delightful enjoyments of domestic happiness, where I have very
seldom suffered politics and her boisterous train to interfere with
my rural felicity; but whenever I have come before the public, I have
always, with an inflexible resolution, cast all selfish considerations
behind me, and given a loose to that "_amor patria_" with which my bosom
ever glows, when I am in the presence of my fellow-countrymen. I have
always said bolder things, and used more of what is called violent
language, in public, than I ever allowed to escape from my lips in my
happy privacy. In that privacy I have been in the habit of associating
with friends holding different political sentiments from my own, without
ever quarrelling with them, or thinking the worse of them, on that
account. My safety has, I repeat, arisen from my political honesty. I
have never joined in any intrigue, any cabal, any faction; I have openly
and boldly contended for the natural and legitimate right of every man
to enjoy political freedom; and I pray God that I may breathe my last
before I alter my opinion upon this subject.

I had now resided in Bath nearly a year, occasionally visiting my farm
at Chisenbury and Littlecot. During my residence at Bath a circumstance
occurred of some importance to me and my family. A brewer, of the name
of Racey, had, as I have before hinted, borrowed upwards of seven
thousand pounds of my father, without any other security than his own
bond, in which sum he was indebted to him at his death. As he had not
paid his interest up regularly, I was induced to look a little more
minutely into his concerns; especially as I found that he was living a
very debauched life. My uncle, William Powell, of Nurstead, a quaker,
who was left joint trustee and executor with myself to my father's will,
and had taken the most active part in the management of my father's
affairs, appeared to place full as much reliance in the credit of this
said brewer as my father had done, and he had several times resisted my
importunities, to demand jointly with me better security for this money
than the brewer's own bond. I argued, that my father had a perfect right
to exercise his own judgment, and give what credit he pleased, as it was
his own property; but that my uncle and myself, acting as trustees for
my brothers and sisters, were not justified in suffering so considerable
a sum of money to remain in this man's hands without better security.
He, however, still persisted that the brewer had a good stock, and a
good trade; that he regularly examined his stock every half year, and he
found that it was in a flourishing state. My answer was, the man lives a
very debauched life, and therefore his affairs must be in a precarious
state; but the quaker was inflexible, and nothing was done in the
matter. The brewer continued his debauched course, and neglected
and quarrelled with his family, and my uncle Powell continued his
confidence. At length, the old man carried his excesses so far, that he
not only quarrelled with his eldest son, but he actually turned him out
of doors. This young man was a great intimate of mine, with whom I
had contracted a sort of school-boy friendship; he, therefore, fled
immediately to me for protection, when he was driven from his father's
house. I laboured with great zeal and perseverance to promote a
reconciliation between the father and the son, but I found the former
implacable, and rancorously vindictive against his son, who had been
interfering about some of his father's debaucheries; and he was
consequently not to be forgiven. The young man saw that his father's
affairs were going fast to ruin, and knowing the large sum that he was
indebted to me and my family, he communicated to me the real situation
of his father, and advised me to take some measures to secure the
property that he was indebted to us as executors under my father's will.
I went to my uncle once more, and represented the matter to him, but
he was as obstinate as ever: he answered, that I had taken a prejudice
against the old man, in consequence of his quarrelling with his son; and
that he should decline taking any hostile measures against him; and that
he had a large stock of good beer, for he had lately examined it. I
informed him that he was imposed upon, that the old brewer had filled
up all his large casks, amounting to between two and three thousand

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